Wait Til You Hear About The NYC Carbon Challenge
The owners of 16 Hotels agree to cut greenhouse gas emissions over 10 years. The hotels, including the Waldorf-Astoria New York and the Grand Hyatt New York, pledged to cut emissions by 30 percent or more as part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s NYC Carbon Challenge program.
A greenhouse gas is any gaseous compound in the atmosphere that is capable of absorbing infrared radiation, thereby trapping and holding heat in the atmosphere. By increasing the heat in the atmosphere, greenhouse gases are responsible for the greenhouse effect, which ultimately leads to global warming.
The exchange of incoming and outgoing radiation that warms the Earth is often referred to as the greenhouse effect because a greenhouse works in much the same way. Incoming UV radiation easily passes through the glass walls of a greenhouse and is absorbed by the plants and hard surfaces inside. Weaker IR radiation, however, has difficulty passing through the glass walls and is trapped inside, thus warming the greenhouse. This effect lets tropical plants thrive inside a greenhouse, even during a cold winter.
A similar phenomenon takes place in a car parked outside on a cold, sunny day. Incoming solar radiation warms the car’s interior, but outgoing thermal radiation is trapped inside the car’s closed windows. Greenhouse gases act like a blanket, absorbing IR radiation and preventing it from escaping into outer space. The net effect is the gradual heating of Earth’s atmosphere and surface, or global warming.
NYC Carbon Challenge
The New York City Mayor’s Office of Sustainability outlines Mayor de Blasio’s goal to reduce citywide greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050. Because buildings account for nearly three-quarters of New York City’s emissions, the Mayor also released One City: Built to Last-Transforming New York City’s Buildings for a Low Carbon Future. The plan is a 10-year roadmap to improve the energy efficiency of the City’s buildings, and sets a goal to reduce the city’s building-based emissions 30 percent by 2025 in order to be on the pathway to 80 x 50.
Since 2007, 17 of New York City’s leading universities, the 11 largest hospital organizations, 11 global companies, and 18 residential management firms have accepted the NYC Carbon Challenge, pledging to voluntarily reduce their building-based emissions by 30 percent or more in just ten years. In addition, 40 Broadway theatres are engaged in a range of sustainability projects through the Broadway Green Alliance.
Six participants have already met the 30 percent goal, and twelve universities, hospitals, and commercial offices have expanded their commitment to a 50 percent reduction by 2025. All together, participants have cut their annual emissions by 175,000 metric tons of carbon and are collectively saving almost $175 million annually in lower energy costs. By the end of the program, current participants are projected reduce citywide emissions by nearly 515,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.