Making Waste to Energy viable through Effective Policy: A case study of Sweden

1. Williams, Matt. “Waste to Energy Success Factors in Sweden and the US: Analyzing the Transferability of the Swedish Waste-to-Energy Model to the US” December 2011. Accessed March 17, 2013.


Williams in this paper provides an overview of waste-to-energy in Sweden and the United States. The paper broadly discusses the unique factors that make waste-to-energy feasible in Sweden and not so feasible in the United States. The paper enumerates the policies, infrastructure, culture and economic realities that make waste-to-energy a success in Sweden. Williams points to high landfilling fees as a disincentive to landfilling and as an incentive to use incineration as an alternative. He talks about the carbon tax, direct subsidies, the recognition of waste-to-energy as a renewable resource among other things as policies that have shaped waste-to-energy in Sweden. He talks about the extensive district heating infrastructure they have and how waste-to-energy perfectly fits into this system as it produces more heat than electricity. He also points to the absence of cheap domestic supply of energy and the high price of oil as motivations for favoring waste-to-energy. Lastly Williams argues that the public support for waste-to-energy makes implementing policies and building infrastructure easier. Williams studies US waste-to-energy using the same lenses and then provides us a guideline to adopting waste-to-energy in the US.


Williams provides a good primer to the topic I will be discussing in my paper. His research on policy, though brief and somewhat shallow provides us with a good jumping point in understanding what the policies are and how they have influenced the adaptation of waste-to-energy technologies. I will be following his research on policy and will be expanding on them in the context of making waste-to-energy a viable option with regards to an environmentally friendly future. I will look into the laws and fees regarding landfilling in the EU and in Sweden and how these policies have incentivized the growth of waste-to-energy technologies. I will look into the carbon tax implemented by both the EU and Sweden and again look at it in the context of motivating the growth of waste-to-energy. I will look into the objectives of the Swedish EPA and see how these have shaped the growth of waste-to-energy.  My paper will provide an in depth look into these policies and see how they’ve made waste-to-energy so successful in Sweden.

2. Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. “Sweden’s Environmental Objective” October 2011. Accessed March 15, 2013.


This government paper highlights Sweden’s commitment to an environmentally sustainable future. Produced by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, the paper enumerates the 16 environmental quality objectives of the Swedish government describing an overall guideline for government wide policy.  The quality objectives that directly pertain to waste-to-energy are overall commitments to a Reduced Climate Impact, Clean Air, A Non-Toxic Environment, A Good Built Environment and Good Quality Ground Water. These objectives while broad, direct the Swedish government’s policies towards an environmentally sustainable Sweden for future generations.


This paper dictates the goals that broadly show the direction of Swedish environmental policy. The commitment to passing on to the next generation a Sweden in which most of the environmental problems are solved accounts for the preference for the most sustainable waste management option. To the Swedes landfilling is the most unsustainable option as it violates most of these goals. Landfilling produces massive quantities of air and water pollutants and thus is incompatible with a reduced climate impact and a non-toxic environment. Incineration while not completely sustainable is the lesser of two evils. Waste-to-energy technology provides energy and heat while reducing the total landfilling tonnage.

3. Lonnroth, Mans. Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. “The Organization of Environmental Policy in Sweden: A Historical Perspective.” December 2010. Accessed March 14, 2013.


Lonnroth’s paper describes the formal organization of Swedish environmental policy, and discusses its implementation. According to Lonnroth the Swedish government is unitary rather than federal. In unitary states the central government has supreme power over policy and law, and subordinate administrative branches can only exercise powers deliberately delegated to them. In the case of Sweden however, the “constitution expressly forbids the Government to give directions to agencies in individual cases concerning private citizens.” Thus the regional and local authorities, who are directly elected, are charged with implementing national policy.

Lonnrotj also talks about the relationship of environmental policy in relation to the overall modernization of Sweden, and the relationship of environmental legislation to other areas of legislation that overlap with environmental concerns. He argues in the paper that “the structure for environmental policy has been more successful when that policy has been aligned with – and thus helped to speed – overall [economic] modernization, and less successful when it has run counter to [economic] modernization.” He cites the example of “reducing industrial pollution, almost to the point of eliminating it” as one of the larger successes of this alignment.


Lonnroth’s paper argues that the formal political organization of Sweden fosters more than others the advancement the environmental agenda. The Swedish system provides us with a model way of implementing environmental policy. The deputation of implementation on a localized level allows for much greater flexibility as depends the circumstances of the locale. This I theorize in areas with district heating grids made the acceptance and usage of waste-to-energy plants most alluring.

Lonnroth acknowledges in his paper that economics plays a large part in the effectiveness of policy. If environmental imperatives align with economic ones, the policy is more likely to succeed. Waste incineration falls in line perfectly with this argument. Waste-to-energy technology is more environmentally friendly than landfilling. It has significantly less greenhouse gasses emissions, it prevents pollutants from entering our water supplies and it significantly decreases the volume of the waste product. These environmental benefits come with the economic benefits of producing the commodities heat and energy.

4. Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. “A Strategy for Sustainable Waste Management: Sweden’s Waste Plan” 2005. Accessed March 19, 2013.


This paper provides a comprehensive view of Sweden’s strategy for sustainable waste management. It sets down the plan on how Sweden intends on achieving its environmental goals as well as the waste figures on year-to-year operation. The paper details the waste disposal policies of both the EU and Sweden. It details the specific legislations surrounding waste-to-energy and talks about its impacts on the technology. It talks about the effects of banning the landfilling of organic and burnable trashes, as well as the land fill tax – both of which have large repercussions towards the waste-to-energy industry. It has statistics detailing the quantities of waste produced and disposed of by the economy as a whole and on a per capita basis. Appendices attached to the paper show the current operating data and projected operating data of the 29 individual waste-to-energy plants in operation in Sweden. It also has tables showing the emissions from waste-to-energy incineration plants from 1985-2004, despite the doubling of plants in operation. The paper details waste import and export figures for incineration. It also enumerates the policies surrounding the disposal of fly ash waste from incineration and shows figures about it.


The paper provides hard data for the argument I intend to make. The paper has data that shows the direct connections between actual policies and implementation. The EU and Swedish policies surrounding the banning of landfilling of organic and burnable waste as well as the landfill tax in particular can be seen as direct incentives to the increased usage of waste-to-energy technologies. The data showing decreases in landfilling as well as increases in waste-to-energy plants illustrate the effectiveness of the Swedish environmental policies. Data showing the waste disposal figures also indicate a direct correlation of increased usage of waste-to-energy technologies in the advent of certain environmental policies. The table showing the operating data of the 29 waste-to-energy facilities illustrate that Sweden is currently in an expansionary phase with regards to this technology. The data showing the import and export of waste demonstrate that Sweden is a net importer of trash. This shows the effectiveness of their waste management policies indicating that Sweden is operating its waste-to-energy plants under capacity.

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Memo 3: Annotated Bibliography

Hyemin Lee
Professor MacBride
IDC 4001H
Annotated Bibliography
Due: April 15, 2013

1. Rosenberg, Tina. “Green Roofs in Big Cities Bring Relief From Above.” The New York Times, May 23, 2012. Accessed March 18, 2013.

Summary: This New York Times article talks about three ways green roofs can help solve environmental problems in big cities, urban heat island effect being one of them. Big cities lack green space due to buildings and “dark surfaces” tightly filling them. This lack causes temperatures in the city to be higher than that of its surrounding areas. The article gives New York City as an example of a city facing this environmental challenge with temperatures that are 7 degrees higher than that of its neighboring areas. It then gives an example of City Hall and how the surface temperature dropped from 169 degrees to as low as 91 degrees from replacing its black tar roof with a green roof full of plants and grass. Another argument presented in the article is the study done by Columbia University and City University of New York, where they found that green roof decreases the “rate of heat gained through the roof in summer by 84%” and “rate of heat loss in winter by 34%.”

Rationale: Data presented in this article on positive effects of green roofs in big cities are exactly what I need to support the final argument I will be making in my research paper: that green roofs are an effective way of mitigating the urban heat island effect. Data I’ve mentioned in the paragraph above as presented in this article are all important to show that green roofs are proven to indeed lower temperature in the summer and retain more heat in the winter. Another thing I really like about the article is that it focuses specifically on New York City a couple of times. With this article, I will be able to make the point that even something as small as changing the color of the roof from black to white can bring about major environmental benefits to the city. It’s important for the city to plan and build wisely because the changing climates are real and a lot more threatening than we believe.

2. Rosenzweig, Cynthia, Gaffin, Stuart, and Parshall, Lily. “Green Roofs in the New York Metropolitan Region.” Accessed February 19, 2013.

Summary: This research report has so much information but once again I will focus on the urban island heat effect in cities. It talks about several types of green roof systems with different layers, vegetation as well as membrane that can be modified and built for the particular goal of the builder. It also mentions that the weight of green roofs can vary as well as the type of plants, grass, flowers, and trees to be planted on the roof. It all really depends on what you want as the builder and allows flexibility in terms of cost. Reduction of temperature will, of course, vary depending on the roof surface chosen. By shading, green roofs reduce heat entering the building itself and consequently help reduce energy usage, greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel consumption. This research paper also argues that green roofs are more effective in heat reduction in long term than white roofs. Though the cost may be higher, green roofs do not require the “burdensome maintenance” of cleaning that white roofs require since much maintenance of them are done naturally. Also, green roof’s cooling effect does not diminish long-term as white roofs do.

Rationale:  Other than exploring how affective green roofs are, included in my proposal is another question I wanted to examine: how practical would it be to plant green roofs citywide taking the cost, long-term maintenance, and safety into consideration? This report will shed some light onto this part of my research. Though at first green roofs may seem expensive to install compared to regular roofs with no environmental benefits, their long-term benefits far outweigh the cost of installation. Projecting into the future, green roofs reduction of heat absorbed indoors will save incredible amounts of energy used on air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter. In terms of maintenance of green roofs for the purpose of cooling, I would argue that maintaining them might even be a pleasant and enjoyable activity for those who are responsible.

3. Bass, Brad. “Mitigrating the Urban Heat Island with Green Roof Infrastructure” Accessed February 19, 2013.

Summary: This paper tests green roof infrastructure in relation to already existing grassland and how it can further reduce the urban heat island in the City of Toronto. Temperatures of the road are above 50 degrees Celsius while those of forest, grassland, and shelter wood are 20 degrees lower to about 30 degrees Celsius. This demonstrates that urban forestry strategy is effective in keeping the city a lot cooler. Grass at ground level when irrigated cooled the lower boundary layer of the city by 1-1.5 degrees Celsius. While that’s already quite significant, experiment further indicated that vegetation on roofs intensified the cooling effect of the existing grass on the ground by as much as 2 degrees Celsius. Areas being cooled also expanded when green roofs were irrigated. Green roof cooling is more effective in high-density areas, commercial and residential areas. Combined with existing green areas of the city, significant cooling was observed with green roofs.

Rationale: What’s presented in the paper is incredibly interesting. Returning to the very cause of rising temperatures in cities is the replacement of natural landscapes with heat absorbing materials in buildings and on roads. By restoring some green on ground level itself cools the city by a notable degree. Green roofs essentially are grassland that has been elevated to one of the warmest parts of the city: roofs. And it does wonders in reducing heat in urban areas as well. I intend to use this study to argue that green roof infrastructure can produce greater heat reducing effects when combined with existing urban forestry on ground level. It is not limited to work independently. Increasing grass and green spaces in general on ground level while expanding green roofs can significantly cool a much larger area than each can on its own. As I am focusing my research on big cities, particularly on New York City, it is also important to note that green roof especially extend and intensify its cooling effect in high-density areas.

4. Rosenzweig, Cynthia, Solecki, William D., and Slosberg, Ronald B. “Mitigrating New York City’s Heat Island with Urban Forestry, Living Roofs, and Light Surfaces.” Accessed February 19, 2013.

Summary: Urban heat island mitigation strategies include urban forestry, green roofs and light colored surfaces. Among the three, green roof as an individual strategy has the greatest effect on the reducing the temperature of the city. In New York City, combination of green roofs and planting trees will yield optimal result in heat reduction. New York City was broken down into seven areas: New York City, Mid-Manhattan West, Lower Manhattan East, Fordham Bronx, Maspeth Queens, Crown Heights Brooklyn, and Ocean Parkway Brooklyn. Average cooling by green roofs for each area at 3 PM was 0.5, 1, 0.9, 0.5, 0.6, 0.7, and 0.8 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively. (These numbers assume that all of available area is redeveloped to green roofs) Mid-Manhattan has highest average cooling degree followed by Lower Manhattan East. This is explained by the fact that these areas have the most flat roof space, 33.8% in the first and 26.6% in latter. Installing green roofs across Brooklyn will also be effective in reducing the temperature of the area as a whole.

Rationale: This report is extremely useful for my paper because it clearly observes the different areas of New York City and how effective green roof infrastructure would be in each. Depending on the area available for flat roofs mitigation of the urban heat island effect varies. Understanding the area can help better prepare and make policies in installation of green roofs and ultimately in the development of heat island mitigation.


5. U.S. Department of Buildings, “NYC Green Roof Property Tax Abatement Program.” January 2010. Accessed March 17, 2013.

Summary: Summary of this document should be very straightforward since it is just a list of benefits, requirements on tax abatement. NYC Green Roof Property Tax Abatement Program is established to encourage environmentally friendly buildings. Benefits of a one-year Tax Abatement include $4.5 per square foot of green roof and as much as $100,000. There are nine requirements for a green roof to qualify for an abatement including a drainage layer, insulation layer, weatherproof roofing membrane, root barrier layer, insulation layer, growth medium, maintenance plan, and a vegetation layer. This program is the city’s effort to encourage building owners to install green roofs to mitigate the increasing temperature in urban areas.

Rationale:This is a valuable source for my paper because it shows that the government is actively supporting and encouraging more establishment of green roofs by providing financial incentives for building owners to build them. The mitigating effects of green roofs would only be lastingly effective if it happens in large areas of the city, not just some. The nature of this strategy requires as many areas to be covered with vegetation whether it be grass, flowers, or trees. This is the perfect way to advocate that and allow everyone to actively participate in helping solve the serious environmental problems causing discomfort to most but life threatening to some who can be fatally affected by heat.

6. U.S. Department of Design & Construction. “DDC Cool & Green Roofing Manual.” Accessed March 18, 2013.

Summary: This reports examines the cost of green roofs across NYC. There is about 11.5% roof area in NYC, which is about 944,300,000 square feet. New York City has a great potential for green roofs to benefit not only the buildings they’re placed on top of but the city as a whole. If half the roofs in New York City were covered in green, we’ll be able to reduce the urban heat island effect by almost as much as 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Average cost of extensive green roofs is estimated to about $10 per square feet. Greening half of the city would cost about $4.72 billion since there are about 944 million square feet available roof space. Energy usage will decline by an estimated amount of $98.4 million and a total of $149.4 million will be saved annually if half the city installed green roofs. In desiring low maintenance of green roofs, one should consider plant species, initial spacing, plant propagule, soil medium death and pre-grown trays or mats.

Rationale: No matter how excellent a strategy is, if it’s not obtainable it is fair to say that such a strategy is not an effective one to discuss. Though the cost of replacing half of NYC’s black roofs with green is not to be underestimated, such a goal is reachable and the lasting environmental benefits of it are worth the investment in the long-term. This source also emphasizes the main point I will argue in my final paper that green roof is indeed effective in reducing heat in urban areas. More green, the better and more green equals more cooling. Proper planning of green roof installation can also help keep maintenance of it low and easier.



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Memo 3: Annotated Bibliography

To: Professor MacBride
From: Steven Sklyarevskiy
Date: April 15, 2013
Re: Annotated Bibliography

1. Pearce, J.L., S. Rathbun, G. Achtemeier, and L.P. Naeher. “Effect of distance, meteorology, and burn attributes on ground-level particulate matter emissions from prescribed fires.” Atmospheric Environment 56 (2012): 203-211.



From 2003 to 2007, experiments were conducted to understand the effects that particulate matter, specifically PM2.5, had on air quality. The study observed prescribed burns, a process which entails the controlled burning of specific land as an important part of forest management. The study took into account many factors including burn duration, burn size, mode of ignition, and regional background PM2.5. The study was done primarily to see the affected range of the smoke polluted by these burns and the results pointed to weather being an important part of the process. Depending on the wind and other climate factors, the smoke spread further affecting the firemen controlling the fire, locations near the burning area, and long range exposure to the environment.



I would like to use the information collected in this study to show the reader that pollution is not limited to trucks and factories. Furthermore, it helps my entire paper by showing the affects of particulate matter and the steps that can be taken to mitigate the consequences. Lastly, I would like to apply the methods used in the study to show the range that would be affected by New York City’s pollution with given specific climates. Just as the issue of sending waste to neighboring states is an issue with waste management, such is the process of burdening nearby cities and states with New York City pollution.


2. Toth, Pal, Arpad Palotas, Eric Eddings, Ross Whitaker, and JoAnn Lighty. “A novel framework for the quantitative analysis of high resolution transmission electron micrographs of soot I. Improved measurement of interlayer spacing.”Combustion and Flame 160, no. 5 (2013): 909-919.



What is soot anyway? Most people either do not know what soot actually is or have a rudimentary understanding of it. This journal explains what particulate matter is and more importantly the differences between different size particles. The journal also provides information about PM2.5 filters and their effectiveness. It explains how light spectrums can be used to filter certain components such as ammonium sulfate, hematite, goethite, and magnetite from the raw exhaust referred to as black carbon. These spectral filters can distinguish particulate matter from different sources such as cigarette smoke or diesel exhaust. The process uses a machine called a smoke screen reflectometer which shines light into smoke and can identify particles and density by observing transparency and reflective properties of the black carbon.



The information I gather from this journal will establish a base knowledge of black carbon and particulate matter so that the rest of my information will make sense.  It is important that this information be given at the beginning of the paper but I will likely separate the technology and mention it later in the paper. The technology introduced in the journal will show the reader some current progress being made and the effects that it will have on future disposal of black carbon. I intend the paper to start off neutral, shift to a negative portrayal of particulate matter, and finish with an optimistic outlook on how it can be improved.


3. Patel, Moloni, Steven Chillrud, K.C. Deepti, James Ross, and Patrick Kinney. “Traffic-related air pollutants and exhaled markers of airway inflammation and oxidative stress in New York City adolescents.” Environmental Research121 (2013): 71-78.



This journal reveals studies done that show the effect of New York City air, heavily polluted by diesel fuel emissions, on both asthmatic and non-asthmatic children. The researchers would observe fluctuations in the air quality and the affect it had on the children at that time. They gathered air quality information from the air near schools and from the closest central air monitoring sites. They observed the children by collecting exhaled breath and hypothesized that all children would be affected but that asthmatics would have worse reactions. They found that both asthmatic and non-asthmatic children reacted negatively to the changes in the air: decreases in pH of exhaled air during increases of black carbon in the air and increased nitrogen dioxide causing oxidative stress. However, they were surprised to find that there was no observable difference between the effects on asthmatic and non-asthmatic children.



Not only does this journal tie the entire issue of particulate matter to New York City but it will also be one of my prime examples of the direct effects of pollution. This will help the reader understand why pollution of particulate matter is important to learn about and change because even though this was an experiment, the researchers only observed what already happens on a daily basis. This information will be presented after the reader has become acquainted with particulate matter and other air pollutants. It will be presented in tandem with sources that underscore the effects of particulate matter on the environment so that the scope of the problem can be seen.


4. Bahadur, Ranjit, Yan Feng, Lynn Russell, and V. Ramanathan. “Impact of California’s air pollution laws on black carbon and their implications for direct radiative forcing.” Atmospheric Environment 45, no. 5 (2011): 1162-1167. (accessed April 12, 2013).



California has some of the worst air quality in the entire United States and has enacted laws in recent years to combat pollution. Researchers used the Interagency Monitoring of Protected Visual Environments (IMPROVE) network to observe air quality for the past 20 years. Ever since the California Heavy Truck rule enacted in 1987, which capped diesel emissions at 0.60 g BHP−1 h−1, the amount of black carbon released into the atmosphere has fallen around 50% in the passed 20 years. Although there was a severe drop in black carbon in the air, the concentration of aerosols such as nitrate and sulfate remained relatively unchanged.



The section of the research paper where this information will be used will be a presentation and dissection of air control policies enacted by both state and federal bodies. I will present the laws, give a small background and set goals for the law, and the recorded outcome. This will help show what programs and laws are effective and ineffective in dealing with particulate matter pollution. The information from this journal also proves the idea that the vast majority of black carbon and particulate matter is polluted via diesel fueled trucks and factories. I hope to find health studies that cover the same time span as this study to see if the decrease in black carbon emissions had a noticeable effect on the welfare of the people of California.


5. Chang, Hannah. “Domestic Mitigation of Black Carbon From Diesel Emissions.”Environmental Law Reporter News & Analysis 41, no. 2 (2011): 10126-10135. (accessed April 12, 2013).



One of the primary ways that the Environmental Protection Agency regulates black carbon, among other emissions, is through the establishment of national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) under the Clean Air Act. The standards have changed many times in the past decades to include smaller and smaller particulate matter sizes. The report lists powers and actions taken by the EPA including emission caps on newly built diesel engines and encouraging voluntary control policies for existing diesel engines. Among actions taken at a national level, the report also addresses actions taken by the United Nations to spread awareness and mitigate the effects of black carbon emissions. For example, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change held in Copenhagen in December 2009 established the Safe Access to Firewood and Alternative Energy in Humanitarian Settings project, which continues to distribute fuel-efficient stoves in developing countries.



The legal component of pollution is one of the main pillars of the essay. The information in this study will be in the closing pages of this research paper and will give the reader some security that steps are being taken to fight particulate matter emissions. I will be sure to make note of national and international plans that have been effective as well as some that have failed. The end of the paper will describe plans that have been enacted in the past few years that have no yet yielded results and will be open-ended so that the reader can use information gained in the paper to evaluate these plans and decide on their effectiveness. Hopefully, this new insight and opinions will spark a willingness to participate in pollution politics and information regarding how to go about that will be included in the conclusion.

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Memo 3: Annotated Bibliography

To: Professor MacBride
From: Raymond Wang
Date: April 15, 2013
Re: Annotated Bibliography

“Greening Mass Transit & Metro Regions.” MTA. (accessed April 15, 2013).
This report shows the current number of hybrid electric buses and compressed natural gas buses in 2012. The report also shows what percentage of the active fleet is hybrid electric. This report says that ninety one percent of all new vehicles purchased are some sort of hybrid and will help reduce emissions. This shows how the MTA has definitely improved throughout the years with such an accomplishment. The report continues to talk about improvements that need to be made regarding carbon emissions and energy usage. Even though most of the changes do not directly change the fleet, they will also be useful in helping buses be cleaner. Certain suggestions such as solar roofs may benefit the entire MTA system along with the buses. Since buses need to be refueled at stations, having energy storage from solar panels can help the MTA use more renewable resources. The MTA also have some energy storing capabilities such as photovoltaic cells and hydrogen fuel cells.

The sustainability report is one of the most important parts of how the MTA is changing. I was only focused on the specific sections that were relevant to the buses and how they could be improved. Upon reading, I discovered that renewable energy is being used in MTA facilities. While it does not state what these facilities are for, subways or buses, it is still important since the carbon footprint is being reduced. The report also shows a chart of the current distribution of the fleet’s vehicles. In addition, it also shows the number of hybrid electric and compressed natural gas vehicles as of 2012. This information will be helpful in showing how the majority of the current fleet is composed of these hybrid electric vehicles. This shows that the MTA has definitely taken steps to ensure reduced carbon emissions.

“Mother Clare Hale Bus Depot Replacement Charrette Report.” .” MTA. (accessed April 15, 2013).
All of New York City’s buses have been converted to use ultra low sulfur diesel. This change will greatly reduce all future emissions. Previously, all buses ran on diesel, which was providing a burden to the city’s atmosphere. With the switch to ultra low sulfur diesel, the exhaust emissions are greatly reduced. Furthermore, particle filters were installed to filter emissions even further. These two new changes definitely helped the buses become cleaner in general. Both of these regulations were applied to all of the city’s buses by 2000.

Statistics regarding the cleaner emissions were not provided in this public report. However, it does claim that the particle filters are required on all buses to further reduce the emissions. The report also says that all buses from 2000 will only be running on ultra low sulfur diesel. These are important technological improvements that can be applied to the entire fleet. This type of information together with the statistics provided in other reports will show how well the buses are doing with this small improvement.

“MTA New York City Transit.” MTA New York City Transit. (accessed April 15, 2013).
The MTA changed their bus fleet to hybrid electric. They ordered the Orion VII model from Orion International that contains a lithium ion battery rather than lead acid. 125 vehicles were ordered. These buses were the first step from the MTA to make their buses hybrid electric. The Orion VII model also has the patented HybriDrive system that makes it hybrid and electric. The engine is controlled by HybriDrive, which powers the generator. The generator powers the motor that makes the bus move. The generator also recharges the battery placed on top of the vehicles. The battery at the top of the bus is used for acceleration and when the bus needs to climb hills. A braking system is also present where it recovers energy during braking and stores it in the battery. With regenerative braking, it allows most of the energy from the generator to be recovered during the process. This technology is extremely crucial to buses in particular due to the constant stopping. In addition, it also slows down brake wear. Both the engine and the generator make up the hybrid electric system of the vehicle. With this combination, the bus produces very low emissions and has much higher gas mileage. Diesel fuel is only used to run the engine, which in turn powers the generator. The generator also assists in driving the traction motor to make the bus move. The buses also contain a diesel particle filter that further mitigates the exhaust emissions. It is said that these buses are expected to reduce up to 90% in total emissions.

This particular source contains a lot of information regarding hybrid electric buses. Not only does it include plenty of numbers that relate to emissions, it also provides a very detailed picture that contains how the actual engine for these hybrid electric buses operate. The emission statistics show how much cleaner these buses are in relation to their other counterparts. The diagram also clearly labels all the parts of the engine and definitely helps in providing an adequate visual. In addition to the information provided regarding the actual buses themselves, information regarding the future is also presented. Plans of further buses to purchase are briefly mentioned. Plans of the approval of this entire process is also included in which shows when the hybrid electric program became the way it is today.

“Hybrid-Electric Transit Buses.” Hybrid-Electric Transit Buses. (accessed April 15, 2013).
The introduction of compressed natural gas (CNG) buses began in 1990. NYCT realized the importance of being environmentally friendly with their vehicles. Thus they purchased two new CNG buses during the year. These buses were only purchased for testing to see if they met the requirements. Again, thirty two CNG buses were purchased to help test these new type of vehicles. After extensive testing, one hundred ninety additional CNG buses were finally purchased. This was the first step for NYCT to begin their reduced emission fleet. Since these CNG were very successful, further decisions were made to purchase hybrid electric buses. Since hybrid technology was still relatively new, prototypes were purchased for testing. Great results were provided and this prompted the acquisition of more hybrid electric buses. These new buses were definitely showing improvements over the traditional ones. Hybrid technology is still evolving and newer and more efficient buses were being built. Since these hybrid buses were satisfactory, more and more were purchased.

This particular report is important because it discusses the beginnings of the transition for diesel fuel buses to ones that are more environmentally friendly. It somewhat provides a timeline of all the reduced emission buses that were purchased. The use of the compressed natural gas buses is the starting point for all future improvements to helping reduce emissions and being more environmentally friendly in general. The report also provides specific numbers for the amount and types of buses that were purchased. Few statistics were mentioned regarding the emissions and how the change to better buses helped decrease emissons.

“Select Bus Service.” MTA. (accessed April 15, 2013).
Select Bus Service had a few goals in mind. One method was to give buses an exclusive part of the road. These partitions are strictly enforced and prevent other cars from sharing the lanes. These buses are also used to carry people to their location faster and more efficiently. With dedicated lanes on the road, buses spend less time idling and more time reaching their destination. Even though it was not the initial intention for the program, it mitigated pollution and helped conserve fuel. Mostly importantly, the Select Bus Service was not intended to be a method of reducing emissions. However, with many of the features implemented, it resulted in positive results. The use of Select Bus Service will definitely help the battle of reducing emissions.

This report from the MTA talks about a new program that is being released. Even though exact statistics were not provided, the results show that the Select Bus Service does in fact mitigate some emissions. This report shows that in addition to switching vehicles and making improvements, these types of programs are also capable of making progress. This report will mainly demonstrate that making these new types of programs are also capable of helping out the environment. This is the first instance where something like this has been introduced in NYCT’s history and it will aid in proving that there are many changes being made in addition to the technological ones.

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To: Professor MacBride

From: Jessica Lin

Date: April 15, 2013

Re: Annotated Bibliography – The Reality of Green Roofs

1. Urban Design Lab at the Earth Institute, and Columbia University. “The Potential for Urban Agriculture.” The Potential for Urban Agriculture in New York City, 2012.

Summary: “The Potential for Urban Agriculture” focuses on all types of urban agriculture, including community gardens, open space farming, rooftop farming, etc. This study gives information on all aspects of urban agriculture: The planning stage – what needs to be considered, the costs and benefits, and so forth; The potential of urban agriculture – what spaces and how much space is available and can be used in every borough of New York City; The issues NYC faces and how urban agriculture can help – obesity correlated to the lack of fresh foods, storm water run-off, the urban heat island effect, and waste composting; Incentives for urban agriculture, including tax abatements for green roofs.

Rationale: This article is particularly relevant because it contains a vast amount of information about the potential and the difficulties of urban agriculture specifically in New York City. I would like to use on the information it provides on green roofs. To know how realistic green roofs are, it is good to have number or percentage in mind of how many roofs can actually be used. This is provided in the study. For my paper, I am bringing to focus two issues that rooftop farming tackles: storm water run-off and the urban heat island effect, because these two issues are relevant to New York City. This study also provides a useful amount of statistics and information on the two issues. It shows that green roofs can help to reduce the temperature of New York City provided by a study done by NASA, and that there has already been incentives taken towards green roofs that help to combat water run off.


2. Rosenberg, Tina. 2012. “Green Roofs in Big Cities Bring Relief From Above.” The Opinionator.

Summary: Big cities have to face the issues of water run-off and the urban heat island effect. This blog explains the types of green roofs there are, intensive and extensive roofs. Of course installing green roofs are not simple or cheap, but there are shown benefits. Studies have been done to provide statistics and results of green roofs compared to our traditional black roofs. There are many places that have already begun various types of green roofs.

Rationale: This blog is very important because it provides the general overview of green roofs. It also provides valuable resources and summarizes them, Leading me to two green roof studies done in New York City which I will provide in the next two citations. As well, according to Amy Norquist, green roofs also tackle climate change through absorption of carbon emissions. One square meter of green roof can absorb the emissions of one car driven 12,000 miles a year. This is another potential of green roofs.


3. S.R. Gaffin, C. Rosenzweig, J. Eichenbaum-Pikser, R. Khanbilvardi, T. Susca. “A Temperature and Seasonal Energy Analysis of Green, White, and Black Roofs” Columbia University, Center for Climate Systems Research. New York.

Summary: In this report, Columbia uses Con Edisons “Learning Center” Roof Project of green, black, and white roofs to create an analysis of how heat flow varies from black roofs, white reflective roofs, and green living roofs. These roofs are located in Queens. In summary, black roofs absorb the most amount of heat. White roofs are cooler than black roofs, and green roofs are cooler than white roofs. During winter time, black roofs showed the highest temperature heat loss, while green roofs had a lower heat loss rate. It is important to note that this report provides statistics of heat and temperature pertaining to buildings in New York City, and not the temperature or heat of New York City in general.

Rationale: While statistics may show that green roofs can help to reduce New York City temperature by several degrees, to us that may not sound to be a lot. This report by Columbia focuses on the temperature effects on buildings. This directly effects us because we are the residents of these buildings. The statistics provided by the report help to show just how much a building we live in (just like the roofs in the report, located right here in Queens, New York) can be cooler in the summer, warmer in the winter, and indication of energy conservation due to these effects.  Also, the reduction of heat due to green roofs is thought to have correlating effects on energy conservation. However, as stated in this report, it is shown that energy savings are modest. This shows that there is a reduction, but it may not be much.


4. Gaffin, S. R., Rosenzweig, C., Khanbilvardi, R., Eichenbaum-Pikser, J., Hillel, D., Culligan, P., McGillis, W., and Odlin, M., 2011. “Stormwater Retention for a Modular Green Roof Using Energy Balance Data“ Columbia University, Center for Climate Systems Research. New York. 19 pages

Summary: Using the Con Edison Learning Center, statistics were collected and analyzed between a green roof, white roof, and black roof. Black roofs show the highest absorption of heat, white roofs reflect and retain less heat than black roofs, and green roofs retain the least amount of heat compared to the other two. It can be concluded from this study that green roofs are most effective in all aspects concerning building temperature.

Rationale: To understand the potential and benefits of green roofs in combatting storm water run off, we need to know just how much water can be retained by these roofs and how it works? This study, which also used the Con Edison Learning Center, shows just how much water can be retained annually and throughout the summer by this building. The evaporation of water from a green roof is equivalent to the amount of water that is retained by a green roof and never enters the sewage system. This study is significant because we can then use these statistics to estimate how much water can be kept of the water system if we implemented green roofs on a larger scale.  This helps to prove that green roofs are an effective solution.

5. EPA. 2008. “Green Roofs” Reducing Urban Heat Islands: Compendium of Strategies. Environmental Protection Agency.

Summary: This chapter explores the urban heat island effect through green roofs. It explains the two types of green roofs: intensive and extensive, and goes into an analysis of the costs and benefits of installing green roofs. Green roofs work through shading and evapotranspiration. There are also other factors that must be considered. Several case studies of green roof initiatives are included. The research used to support this chapter is taken from other states and even in places like Canada.

Rationale: Before we focus on the benefits of green roofs we first need to understand how green roofs work, and the types of green roofs there are. This gives a thorough understanding of green roofs and more support of how green roofs reduce energy, collect water, but more importantly this is one of the sources that provides more information on how it reduces greenhouse gases through absorption. It also provides links to research being conducted by university programs which is very useful.

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Annotated Bibliography – New York City on Hurricane Sandy : A Powerful City Sans Power.

To: Professor Samantha MacBride

From: Derek Ku

Date: Apr 15, 2013

Re: Annotated Bibliography

Venugopal, Arun. 2011. “WNYC News Blog – Census Pinpoints City’s Wealthiest, Poorest Neighborhoods.” WNYC.

Venugopal highlights one of the lowest income neighborhoods in New York City that is located in South Bronx and provides socioeconomic statistics presented over a map of New York City. He goes on to highlight the opposite side of the spectrum in Upper East Side where the median income is over $200,000. I find it fascinating that the poor live immediately a couple blocks away from the affluent in Midtown West. The geographical data presented on the median income level map allows me to understand how the wealth is distributed amongst the five boroughs of New York City and the neighboring states. In regards to storm water management and power blackouts, I will be exploring how quickly a neighborhood recovers after these disasters. I will examine how this hastens because of neighborhood cooperation or exacerbates from rioting, theft, or arson. The closer the neighborhoods are to the lower water levels and parks, the higher the median income.

Tingle, Alex. 2013. “Flood Maps.” Accessed April 15.,-101.6015&z=13&m=7.

Tingle, an experienced software engineer utilizes geographical data and water levels to create a map that displays which areas of land will be submerged in water as the water level rises.  I will be observing how water level affects the amount of risk a neighborhood is in and how each neighborhood handles the surplus storm water. I have also noticed a trend between the distance from the coast and the increasing median income. This is due in part to rising real estate prices along 12th Avenue and York Avenue, with exception to the Lower East Side which is rent controlled, or rent stabilized. Another point of interest that I discuss is how TriBeCa and the West Village dealt and recovered from Hurricane Sandy as opposed to the residents in the Lower East Side and East Village. Both neighborhoods suffered a huge drawback due to the water damage, but both handled the situation drastically different.

“Population – New York City Department of City Planning.” 2013. Accessed April 16.

 In the NYC 2010 Census, I will be observing how dense each neighborhood is and provide insights on the quality of life in the neighborhoods by comparing it with the water level and median income level. The Upper West Side and Upper East Side are highly populated yet the median income is relatively high due to all the luxury apartments, brownstones, and townhouses. People also have access to Central Park, the East River and Hudson River respectively, which makes these neighborhoods exorbitantly expensive. On top of that, Upper East Side and Upper West Side are both situated on fairly high ground.

“Hurricane Sandy: New Jersey, New York Still Struggle With Power Outages.” 2012. Huffington Post.

Over 8 million customers lost power during the storm and over hundreds of thousands of customers lost power days after Hurricane Sandy, demonstrating the lasting effects of the Hurricane on power in New York City and the surrounding areas. Electric infrastructure got damaged to the point where they could not access electricity even if it was available to their neighborhood. The power outage in densely populated areas hurt homes and businesses alike. Most of the densely populated neighborhoods such as Lower East Side, East Village, and West Village were hit. Queens’ Breezy Point and Long Island were hit the hardest due to lack of infrastructure and population density.

“SoPo: The Coining of a Neighborhood Name.” 2013. The Atlantic Wire. Accessed April 16.

Due to the power outage, New Yorkers banded together to form a temporary neighborhood called South of Power. On a social standpoint, where everyone formerly went to barhop and enjoy nightlife, now became a place where everyone dreaded. In a city overrun with real estate professional whom coin acronyms and nicknames for neighborhoods, South of Power was ironically created to unite the neighborhoods and boost morale amongst the residents. It was not an uncommon occurrence to see folks in the Lower East Side without access to clean water resort to fire hydrants and clearing supermarkets for supplies. People stocked up on food and water, expecting the effects of Sandy to last for more than just a couple days. A loss of power became the cause of crowds huddling around Starbucks for Free wi-fi and Chase Banks for outlets. In a bleak, powerless portion of New York City, it’s citizens created a symbol euphemistically embracing the grit and struggle that New Yorkers endured during and after Hurricane Sandy.

“Phone Charging Stations Pop up Around NYC in Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy | Digital Trends.” 2013. Digital Trends. Accessed April 16.

Electricity runs a city. Without power, millions of New Yorkers were left unable to utilize their phone to contact family and family. As observed by some media outlets, New Yorkers took up extremes to even bike on a stationary bicycle that cranked a generator, charging multiple phones. In response to New York’s lack of mobile electrical infrastructure, Brightbox, a Brooklyn based startup creates mobile charging stations which charges a $2-4 fee per usage. The need began after the founder, Adam Johnson saw the crowded in residential and hotel lobbies. After its installation in front of the Ace Hotel, it has charged over thousands of phones. Other issues still remain; a lack of Wi-Fi connection would render tablets and phones without service useless as a mode of communication in a disaster. Brightbox provides a temporary solution to a small portion of Manhattan. In the coming years, New York will need these charging stations spread out amongst the city to combat disasters that might occur in the future.

“Thousands of Con Edison Customers Lose Power Due to Hurricane Sandy Through New York City and Westchester County.” 2013. NY Daily News. Accessed April 16.

Con Edison threatened to shut down its operations because the storm surge would “flood the underground electrical delivery system.” New York’s electrical infrastructure has not prepared for a flood of this magnitude. Hurricane Sandy brought record-breaking water levels. Our poor stormwater management infrastructure provided New York with only drains and grates that would allow excess water to flow back into the tunnels below the city.  Power was cut from lower Manhattan, because ConEd deems the pipes to be explosive if inundated with cold sea water. The seawater threatened to burn out the equipment which would have made repairs a lot slower.

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PlaNYC Initiative #3: Incentivizing Recycling Annotated Bibliography

Michelle Guo
Professor MacBride
IDC 4001H
Annotated Bibliography
Due: April 15, 2013


PlaNYC Initiative #3: Incentivizing Recycling Annotated Bibliography


1.)   Allen, Jeff, Duane Davis, and Mark Soskin. “Using Coupon Incentives in Recycling Aluminum: A Market Approach to Energy Conservation Policy.” working paper., 1993. EBSCOhost.

Summary: Jeff Allen, Duane Davis, and Mark Soskin are three researchers that analyzed the impact coupon incentives have on recycling by offering coupon incentives for those who participated in recycling aluminum.  Their results found that modest coupon incentives had a positive influence on individuals who already recycle, but did not have any impact on nonrecyclers.  The higher the coupon value, the more recyclers were willing to recycle.  They also discovered that income, gender, and occupation are the most prominent demographic variables associated with the recyclers in the study.  Nonprofessional males with low incomes are the most likely individuals to recycle aluminum.  Taking the findings from their study, Allen, Davis, and Soskin also suggest multiple ways to incorporate coupon promotional programs into the development of energy conservation policy; they believe it is important to view coupon incentives as a long-term conservation policy tool, promote coupon campaigns that would enhance the benefits that come from recycling, and offer more coupon incentives to rural areas that do not have mandatory curbside recycling.

Rationale: This study is important because American consumers save around $4 billion through the use of cents-off coupons.  This wide coupon use sparks interest and research like this to create effective coupon incentives for recycling.  At the end of 1988, over two and one-half million tons of aluminum waste was generated, with approximately 31.7% of the waste recovered for reuse.  As a result, aluminum recycling became a target for state and municipal legislation.  This study is vital to PlaNYC’s recycling incentive initiative because it also specifies the income, gender, and occupation of individuals who are most likely to recycle aluminum.  This information is valuable because it not only highlights the demographic that responds highly to recycling incentives, but it also shows that greater efforts need to be made to encourage people of all incomes, occupations, and genders to recycle.  This study can also be applied to other types of conservation efforts and recycling of all types of materials.  By combining recycling legislation and coupon incentives, recycling will become a more prominent part of the economy.


2.)   DSM Environmental, “Analysis of New York City Department of Sanitation Curbside Recycling and Refuse Costs.” Last modified May 2008.

Summary: DSM Environmental Services, Inc., a company that analyzes solid waste management solutions, created a report analyzing New York City’s curbside recycling and refuse costs.  According to the report, after New York City cut the recycling budget in 2002, the nation started to wonder whether or not recycling was actually a cost-effect way to deal with municipal solid waste.  Although two years later, Mayor Bloomberg and the New York City Council together restored glass and plastic recycling collections for all households and created a long-term contract that involved sorting and reselling recycled materials, the importance of recycling was still questioned by individuals.  As a result, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. asked DSM Environmental to study the economics of recycling in New York City and its allocation of money towards recycling.  DSM Environmental concluded that at the end of 2005, New York City’s costs per ton of curbside collection and disposal of recyclables was almost equal to the costs per ton of subside collection and disposal of non-recycled waste.  The company explained that this was because the recycling collection crews collected fewer tons per shift than waste collection crews.

Rationale: I intend to use this source as a way to emphasize the importance of encouraging a greater recycling rate through coupon incentives.  The New York City Department of Sanitation’s annual budget of $1.35 billion is allocated into three different parts: 1.) Collecting and disposing waste, 2.) Collecting and processing of recyclables, and 3.) Cleaning streets.  If coupon incentives encourage New Yorkers to recycle more frequently, it will decrease the cost of waste collection and disposal and also make collecting and processing recyclables more efficient.  Recycling collection crews would be able to collect more tons per shift, which would decrease curbside recycling costs.  In addition, the money saved can be allocated towards other functions.  The overall cost of processing a ton of recyclables, as opposed to just collecting, is still dramatically less than the cost that New York City pays companies to bury or incinerate the city’s waste.


3.)   Lange, Robert. Department of Sanitation, “Recycling: What Do New Yorkers Think?.” Last modified Fall 1999.

Summary: In this study, the Bureau of Waste Prevention conducted research over five years on its residents’ opinions about recycling.  The individuals who participated in the surveys were randomly selected respondents between the ages of 25 to 64, personally involved in deciding which items to recycle, and resided in a home that was currently recycling. For the study, 500 residents of five boroughs were randomly chosen every year for five years to represent a cross-section of New York City’s population in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, and income.  The Bureau of Waste Prevention found that one of the most consistent and surprising results from the surveys was that New Yorkers were very enthusiastic about recycling.  When they were questioned about their opinions regarding the New York City recycling program, over 75 percent of residents rated it positively and believed it made New York City cleaner and cut down on pollution.  However, the city residents that were surveyed showed confusion about items that cannot be recycled. 60 percent of residents incorrectly believed that the New York City recycling program permitted them to recycle yogurt containers, takeout containers, Styrofoam items, and plastic bags.

Rationale: I will use this research essay as a way to address the receivers of the recycling incentives.  It is very important for PlaNYC and the Department of Sanitation to know that the general attitude towards recycling is positive.  However, one of the main problems regarding recycling is the knowledge of residents about what is recyclable and what is not.  This may discourage residents from recycling because rather than trying to figure it out, they will just throw everything away.  In addition, while the majority of participants agreed that the New York City recycling program was constantly improving, some admitted that they did not even know that changes had been made. This relates to my research topic because if the general attitude towards recycling is already positive, incentivizing it will improve the attitude even more—the main catch is that the residents must be fully informed about the program in a way that is easy and simple for them to understand while still being effective.


4.)   Gold, Allan. “The Poor Mainly Recycle Poverty.” The Region, Late Ed. edition, sec. 4, December 1990.

Summary: This article talks about the disappointingly low participation of low-income New York City residents of the city’s recycling program in 1990.  Residents in poorer, densely populated neighborhoods in areas such as Harlem or Bedford-Stuyvesant did not seem to actively recycle.  At a community board meeting in Harlem held by the Sanitation Committee, a Harlem resident stated that compared to life and death issues, recycling seemed trivial. City officials wanted to reach its goal of 25% recycling, but did not know how to increase participation in low-income neighborhoods.   In addition, the new recycling program created greater than expected collection costs without much productivity gains in northern Manhattan.  Meanwhile, in the South Bronx, David M. Munchnick, the chief executive officer of a successful recycling buyback center, paid $800,000 to low-income individuals who brought in paper, plastic, glass, metal, and wood in 1982 and then sold it to recycling centers for $5 million.

Rationale: This article is significant because it shows the importance of recycling incentives and the change in attitude about recycling for low-income New Yorkers after recycling incentives were introduced. While at the beginning, the article notes the lack of interest and motivation for low-income New Yorkers to recycle, the end shows that when money incentives are involved, low-income residents are much more willing to recycle.  This shows the effectiveness that recycling incentives bring.  Today, the status of recyclers has changed because mostly low-income individuals in poorer, denser neighborhoods recycle; this is largely due to the coupon and monetary incentives that they receive.  However, this also raises the issue about what type of incentives can be given to middle- and high-income city residents to recycle.  The Department of Sanitation must consider that if grocery coupons and five cents per bottle do not interest these demographics, what will?

5.)   Samantha MacBride, Recycling Reconsidered: The Present Failure and Future Promise of Environmental Action in the United States (Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2012).

Summary: This book, written by Professor MacBride, encourages and informs readers about how the goal of recycling has become lost in the midst of all of the legislation.  In class, we learned about Manhattan and New York City in its most natural state before the transition to cultural diversity and economic wealth.  Although it is impossible for New York City to return to Manhattan, residents of New York City must realize the goal of recycling is still far from being reached.  Large corporations and manufacturers of solid waste have continued to thrive and dominate the political sphere regarding environmental sustainability by preventing sustainable waste policies from passing.  Rather than the federal government taking responsibility for this, local governments and residents are forced to tackle this problem communally.  Dr. MacBride points out multiple problems and questions that this issue raises—are the current steps that consumers and local governments taking truly the most efficient way to recycle and decrease solid waste?

Rationale: When consumers think about recycling, they automatically assume that the simple act of placing a plastic bottle into a recycling bin will save the world and reaches the goal of recycling.  However, this is far from the truth and shows the lack of knowledge that local residents have about recycling.  This issue is not a moral issue though; it is a social and highly political issue that can only be countered by education, mitigation, and legislation.  This theme is vital to my final research paper because incentives encourage action in an effective, yet sustainable manner.  It also educates local residents about what recycling is now, and how that differs from what it should be and how it can be in the future.  If PlaNYC can successfully implement an effective recycling incentive program, it can revamp the way individuals think about recycling and the types of residents who currently recycle in New York City.

6.)   The City of New York, “PlaNYC: Solid Waste.” Last modified 2007.

Summary: In 2007, Mayor Bloomberg launched PlaNYC, a plan designed to create a greener and more sustainable New York City.  PlaNYC now has 132 initiatives that aim toward improving New York City’s physical infrastructure, environment, quality of life, and economy by 2030.  According to the “Solid Waste” portion of the plan, every year, New York City generates over 14 million tons of waste and recyclables.  Over 2,000 city government and 4,000 private trucks collect the waste and recyclables, which generates over 1.66 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year.  There are currently thirteen initiatives in the solid waste plan.  These initiatives focus on minimizing the impacts of New York City’s solid waste while simultaneously reducing the amount of waste that is generated by its residents.  In addition, the plan has another goal to improve the recycling program so that it is accessible and convenient for all New York City residents.

Rationale: I will be focusing on the “Solid Waste” portion of PlaNYC and specifically Initiative Three: Incentivize Recycling.  Although mandatory residential recycling programs were introduced in 1985, New York City residents are still not recycling even half the amount that they could be.  Not only does this create solid waste management problems, but it is also a waste of valuable materials.  I am passionate about this initiative because I strongly support incentivizing recycling.  New York City has started a study on the entire commercial waste system; once it is complete, Mayor Bloomberg and the Department of Sanitation will be able to develop a recognition and awards program to incentivize businesses and institutions to recycle and use recycled materials.  For residential waste, PlaNYC aims to implement strategic reward programs to incentivize household recycling, which will have an outstanding impact on the GHG emissions and reduce New York City’s cost of exporting waste.  In addition, Initiative Three intends to improve access for communities to monitor the effects of their recycling online.

7.)   The City of New York, “PlaNYC Progress Report.” Last modified 2012.

Summary: Five years after PlaNYC was introduced, it has already started making progress towards transforming New York City into a cleaner and more efficient city.  In 2011, an ambitious update was added to the solid waste portion of PlaNYC: divert 75% of New York City’s solid waste from landfills by 2030.  In addition, in Mayor Bloomberg’s January 2012 State of the City address, he announced that the city planned on doubling the diversion rate for residential and institutional waste by 2017.  To achieve these goals, the city council started a clothing-recycling program in 2011 with Housing Works, a non-profit organization that aims to fight homelessness and spread awareness about HIV/AIDS.  This is unique because it is partnering up with a branch that is associated with fashion, a market that has the potential to have a large impact on increasing recycling rates.  In addition, as of 2011, New York City public schools are required to designate a Sustainability Coordinator, whose job is to locate and develop a “site specific” sustainability plan and educate all of the students.

Rationale: This progress report is significant because it highlights the changes that have been made in just five years after PlaNYC was enacted.  Education and knowledge about recycling is essential if PlaNYC wants more New York City residents to recycle, so it is a great step forward to educate children and have them practice the process in their daily lives.  In addition, in 2012, New York City invested in a new recycling processing facility on the Brooklyn waterfront, which allows the city to expand the types of plastics that will be accepted for curbside recycling.  This is important because in the survey conducted by the Bureau of Waste Prevention in the 1990s, researchers learned that the main reason why New York City residents are discouraged from recycling is because they do not know what types of plastics are accepted and which are not.  By educating the public about this, it will eliminate confusion and encourage recycling.

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Annotated Bibliography – Fuel Efficient Vehicles in NYC

To:                   Professor Samantha MacBride

From:              Megan Chiu

Date:               April 15, 2013

Re:                   Annotated Bibliography


Columbia University – SIPA Spring Workshop, A. “TRANSPORTING NEW YORK CITY”(2005), accessed March 5, 2013,

This report written by students of Columbia Universities School of International and Public Affairs explores the New York City initiatives to use green transportation technology. The main option that the students explored was hybrid vehicles, which parallels my research topic. Key benefits of hybrid cars as a green alternative include fuel efficiency, as well as cost savings after multiple years of use.

One of the policy recommendations is to apply the green initiative to a subgroup of the city’s automobile population. One of the groups that can be regulated most easily is the NYC taxi fleet. The proposition is to require a certain percentage of the fleet of taxis and yellow cabs to meet minimum fuel efficiency requirements. Ideally, the proposition will allow the city to identify the most successful fuel efficient vehicle for the taxi fleet.

I am using the source as part of my research because of the detail it goes into when reviewing the different policies implemented thus far in New York City. It is directly related to my topic of fuel-efficient transportation alternatives in the city, referring specifically to cars.


Anonymous. “Hybrid Taxis Will Cut Emissions by 215,000 Tons in Next FiveYears.” BioCycle 48, no. 6 (June 2007): 6, accessed March 1, 2013.

This article reports on Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s efforts to reduce air pollution and emissions drastically by introducing hybrid taxis. According to the article, hybrid taxis will save the equivalent of 30,000 cars’ emissions. The plan, as part of PlaNYC, is to increase the number of hybrid taxis from 375 in 2007 to 1,000 in 2008 and eventually 10,000 by 2011.

Mayor Bloomberg’s initiative is an example of how the city has tried to implement programs to reduce emissions in the city. The success, or failure, of this plan, is an indication of the sustainability and permanence of the program for New York City.

The data from this source will serve as a benchmark for the air pollution reduction standards that the city hopes to achieve within the next few years. The figures mentioned in the article will help me cross referencing the progress made in terms of increasing green vehicles with other statistics.


Gao, H. Oliver, and Vincent Kitirattragarn. 2008. “Taxi Owners’ Buying Preferences of Hybrid-electric Vehicles and Their Implications for Emissions in New York City.” Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice 42 (8) (October): 1064–1073.

The authors explore the benefits of hybrid taxis in the New York City taxi fleet. According to the article, the brake technology in hybrid cars increases fuel efficiency, which also benefits city drivers as they are often braking. In turn, this leads to lower fuel usages and higher mileage, especially in light of high fuel prices.

The article summarizes the authors’ findings of a survey of taxi drivers’ preferences, which are important because they have the power to control the market penetration of hybrid vehicles in the taxi fleet. The surveys found that the two most important factors to taxi drivers when considering which vehicle they want to purchase next are the vehicle cost and the maintenance cost. The environmental impact of the car was the fourth most important aspect, according to correlation coefficients.

As previously mentioned, this article discusses many of the barriers to entry for green and hybrid vehicles in the market, particularly the taxi fleet. These will serve as counter-arguments to why hybrid and electric cars in New York City may not prove to be a sustainable initiative. If a large population of drivers, that is, taxi drivers, is not convinced that they should spend the extra money for a green taxi, then they will choose a conventional car for their next taxi. However, by addressing the concerns of the taxi drivers, the city can cater the initiatives to the concerns of the taxi drivers and thus convince them to purchase green vehicles.


“Exploring Electric Vehicle Adoption in New York City.” 2010, accessed March 31, 2013.

The largest concern is market penetration of electric vehicles in New York City. As a part of PlaNYC, the city is researching ways to pinpoint the benefits that early supporters of electric vehicles and convince other potential consumers to convert to using Electric Vehicles. According to the city, 22% of the air pollution in New York City comes from transportation, which includes cars.

As a supporting point for whether or not the idea is sustainable and the goals achievable, the federal government is a supporter of the PlaNYC Drive Electric NYC initiative as well. One of the drawbacks found in the city’s research is the lack of publication and information about electric vehicles. New York drivers are reportedly less familiar with electric vehicle performance, costs, and emission levels. The article states that by addressing the education issue, New York will be able to accommodate and welcome a new fleet and influx of consumer electric vehicles. The point about the drawback mentioned in the briefing will be important to consider when determining the longevity of the initiative.


Rahman, Hashim. 2011. “NYC Taxi Ruling May Make Cities Tread Carefully.” Planning 77 (6) (July): 8.

This article reports on one of the roadblocks officials face in implementing hybrid vehicle taxi fleets. According to the courts, the initiative to mandate the purchase and use of hybrid and green air technology vehicles as part of the NYC taxi fleet is illegal as it is trying to regulate clean air and fuel. However, there are already federal policies regulating clean air and fuel consumption, the Clean Air Act and the Energy Policy and Conservation Act.

These federal regulations have major impacts on New York City’s ability to adopt a green fleet. Since the courts feel that the hybrid initiative oversteps the boundaries of the federal government’s regulations, requiring taxi drivers to purchase new hybrid vehicles will be a challenge for PlaNYC programmers. This article will be useful in arguing against the sustainability and potential of a creating a hybrid fleet.


Carpenter, Tommy, Andrew Curtis, and S Keshav. “The Return On Investmentfor Taxi Companies Transitioning to Electric Vehicles,” accessed April 12, 2013.

This research paper concludes that after conducting a cost-benefit analysis of using electric vehicles as part of taxi fleet, it is actually beneficial to a city to convert its fleet. However, the survey, which was conducted in San Francisco, does not necessarily mean that it will absolutely have the same results in New York City, though the findings do suggest success. Some of the issues raised in the case study are ideal powering stations for electric vehicles and a total restructuring of the transportation industry.

This is an interesting source to use because the case study takes place in a city similar to and on a similar scale as New York City. California is much more proactive in terms of its air pollution reduction and regulation policies. This is an example of the type of information that can persuade taxi drivers and fleet owners to consider switching over to green vehicles.


“Fact Sheet for Alternative Fuel System Conversions – NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation.” 2013. Accessed April 16.

This fact sheet summarizes the legal changes that can be made to vehicles in order to make them more fuel efficient and compliant with federal regulations such as the Clean Air Act. One of the important points of this fact sheet is that the New York policies are based on California’s laws, which demonstrates the power of influence and high standards California has set in the field of clean air technology.

These pieces of legislature will be important to my research paper because they are compliant with the federal regulations that oversee environmental and air pollution initiatives. Compared to the blanket policies that New York City tried to implement by imposing a mandate to convert all taxis to hybrid or fuel-efficient vehicles, the policies stated in this fact sheet may be better guiding principles for new environmental policies.

*Citations made using Chicago Manual of Style, Author-Date formatting

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Sean Proctor’s Annotated Bibliography

Sean Proctor

Professor MacBride

IDC: 4001

April 15th, 2013


Annotated Bibliography

Improving the Ease and Convenience of Recycling



New York Considering Bottle Bill Expansion

  • Summary: When the Bottle Bill was first created in 1983, it only covered beer, wine, and soda bottles. In 2009 this bill was expanded to include water bottle collection as well, but it still left out numerous other collectable plastics. After being discussed for years, the Bottle Bill has finally been expanded to encompass the collection of bottles used for flavored water, iced tea, energy drink, sports drink, and different juices. While New York City has a plastic recycle collection available to its citizens, the Bottle Bill is currently the only incentivized recycling initiative for residents. The Bill’s popularity has been well documented over its three decade existence, and almost everyone has either used the collection machines or seen them being used. Additionally, many jobless people actively look for these plastics that can be returned for money, which not only benefits them but also adds to the number of bottles that are eventually recycled.  A member of the New York Public Interest Research Group has estimated that this expansion alone will increase the number of returnable bottles by fifteen percent, and generate an additional five million dollars annually for New York’s Environmental Protection Fund.
  • Rational: This will be useful when arguing that the state is actively making strides in the right direction in regards to improving the ease of recycling. In addition, in a city where so many people live on tight budgets, this is convenient way to get some cash back for items that you will eventually have to dispose of anyway. The newspaper article cites reliable sources within different New York agencies, which will add credibility to the research paper. It is important to highlight this initiative because it has been successful over an extended period of time, and it will continue to generate millions of dollars for the city while cutting down on the amount of recyclables in our trash. This expansion was announced on March 11th of this year, which gives current details to the body of research.
  • Source: “New York Considering Bottle Bill Expansion.” Accessed March 17, 2013.



New York’s Bottle Bill

  • Summary: This summary of the Bottle Bill from the Department of Environmental Conservation provides key facts in demonstrating the effectives of this initiative. While the success of the Bottle Bill is widely known, the extent of this is not realized by many. The Bottle Bill, formally known as The New York State Returnable Container Act, has reduced roadside container litter by seventy percent.  Since the Bill’s creation, over ninety billion containers have been recycled by these machines, which is equal to six million tons of material, and the collection of these plastics was at no additional costs to local governments.  The Bottle Bill has saved over an estimated fifty-two million barrels of oil and avoided the addition of 200,000 metric tons of greenhouse gasses to our environment each year. It also emphasizes the importance of the recent adjustment to the Bill allowing for the collection of plastic water bottles, which were once a fraction of the market and now account for around twenty-three percent of the market.
  • Rational: The statistics I found on this website are not only by far the most powerful and enlightening, but they are also from a trusted source. While almost everyone knows of the Bottle Bill, these statistics are surprising to even the most optimistic of people.  These statistics who that the Bottle Bill was (and is) a success, and that while much has been accomplished, more can be done. It also shows how successful an initiative that incentivizes recycling can be, especially in such a socio-economically diverse city as New York.  The Bottle Bill is an important part of New York’s recycling history, and how the government has attempted to engage the interest of the community, even if they use peoples personal wants as a catalyst.  Additionally, the website provides a few hyperlinks to sites giving more information on this Bill, including FAQ’s, Litigation Updates, and the Dealer’s responsibilities among others.
  • Source: “New York’s Bottle Bill, The Returnable Container Act (RCA).” Accessed March 17, 2013.


Top 6 Recycling and Reuse Initiatives from around the Globe

  • Summary: This informative slideshow enlightens visitors to six different recycling and reuse initiatives from around the world that are currently experiencing different levels of success. These slides including recycling cooking oil in Barcelona, mandatory composting in San Francisco, stylized trash in Argentina, an illuminating artistic display in Warsaw that brings recycling awareness to citizens, reverse vending machines such as ‘The Dream Machine’, and a waste water park in Germany. While all of these initiatives are interesting, I will focus on two of the six primarily. San Francisco has become the exemplary city in the USA in regards to how much a community can recycle. San Francisco diverts over seventy-two percent of its waste from landfills, and this number will only increase with the introduction of green recycle bins that will collect compost from the community. The other interesting initiative is the possibility of introducing reverse vending recycle machines throughout the USA, similar to the machines that the Bottle Bill utilizes. Whether or not these innovative machines can achieve wide spread success is open to debate, but the idea of expanding upon one of New York’s most successful recycling programs is an promising idea.
  • Rational: All the six initiatives are interesting and practical in their own ways, but the two relate most to this city and paper are the introduction of mandatory composting in San Francisco and the concept of the advanced reverse vending machines that could be integrated into the USA within the year. While it is unlikely New York can attain the same level of recycling efficiency as San Francisco, some of their collection initiatives could be modified of imitated in New York. Since New York is much more densely populated than San Francisco, the notion of different colored recycle bins might be impractical, but the idea that each apartment complex that houses more than a certain amount of people being required to have a few bins for tenants to voluntarily recycle different materials is feasible. The reverse vending machines (similar to the ones used by the Bottle Bill) will almost certainly be presented nationwide within the next year. Instead of simply returning the person a small amount of cash in return for their recyclables, the company in charge of this innovation wants to create a point-like system that can be accumulated and then turned into cash, prizes, or various credits. The reward system is very popular in marketing because of its popularity, and this type of machine could entice a larger population of people that do not use the Bottle Bill’s machines.
  • Source: “Top 6 Recycling and Reuse Initiatives from around the Globe.” Accessed March 18, 2013.


Dream Machine

  • Summary: The Dream Machine is the name of the innovative reverse vending machine mentioned in the ‘Top 6 Recycling and Reuse Initiatives from around the Globe’. The Dream Machine is a program sponsored by PepsiCo in collaboration with WM Green Ops, which is a subsidiary of Waste Management.  They plan to put two different types of collection bins out into the public: the first being a plain bin that is will return the recycler nothing in return for their plastics, and the other being a self described ‘intelligent kiosk’ that will allocate points to the user for their plastic deposits. There points can be redeemed for various different rewards, including prizes and cash. Additionally, PepsiCo is pledging different amounts of money to various organizations if the public can meet certain recycling milestones.  The company hopes to increase the USA’s beverage recycling rate from its current thirty-four percent rate to a fifty percent rate by 2018.
  • Rational: Because the Bottle Bill has been so successful over the past thirty years, it makes sense to see analyze what could make this even more efficient. The Dream Machine Initiative also shows that not only the government and people are making strides to increase recycling rates, but also corporations that are reliant on plastics. While it is still unknown how the Dream Machine will interact with its users and what type of rewards they will get, the notion of depositing solid waste in an exciting manner and receive some form of compensation or prize is appealing to a wide range of people across the globe. There are currently no Dream Machines in New York City (the nearest is in Westchester) but this will surely change in the upcoming years. There is not much data on The Dream Machine because of it being in the early stages of its dissemination, but all indicators point to this initiative becoming a successful recycling outlet that can garner wide spread popularity for a number of different popular reasons.
  • Source: “Dream Machine Locator.” Accessed March 18, 2013.


History of NYC Recycling

  • Summary: This summary from the NYC’s government website details recycling in New York City since the foundation of the New York City Department of Street Cleaning in 1881. This department would under go many name changes and eventually become what we know today as the Department of Sanitation. It details where the City’s solid waste used to go, and the implementation of different recycling initiatives (both successful and unsuccessful) over the last century. It goes into detail about the passing of Local Law 19, which mandated recycling within New York City, as well as the informing the reader on different local landfills and recycle plans. Different initiatives are mentioned including Theodore Roosevelt’s recycling strides, the Bottle Bill, and the beginning of the government actively collecting resident’s recyclables. It does not just highlight the good points of recycling in the city, but also mentions the recycling developments that were not beneficial. Most noticeably of these being the suspension of recycling collection during the first few years of the twenty-first century. 
  • Rational: It is imperative to have multiple sources on the history of recycling in New York City for this paper; after all, if the paper is to propose ways to improve our current recycling state, the reader must have a basic background on the topic. I found the initiatives that in hindsight were not popular or successful to be just as interesting as those that were, and discovered through my searches that finding unsuccessful ideas is substantially more difficult than finding the successful ones. The paper will mention in detail how the city stopped the collection of recyclables in 2002 and the outcry that this caused in the public, which lead to its eventual renewal a few years later.  This website also has links to historical PSA’s, advertisements, city recycling laws, detailed reports, as well as its documentation on recycling. The paper will also compare the ease of recycling at different intervals to what it currently is today.
  • Source: “History of NYC Recycling.” Accessed March 18, 2013.


Optimizing recycling in all of New York City’s neighborhoods

  • Summary: This paper is a New York centric analysis on recycling in the city. It contains a brief history of New York City’s solid waste disposal, with an emphasis on recycling since Bloomberg’s infamous decision to halt most recycling initiatives in 2002. It also breaks down the different recycling percentages through different filters such as diversion, education level, and economic standing. Additional statistics include waste generation rates within the city, the REAP (recycling education, awareness, and participation) index, and correlation and regression analysis. The latter of the additional statistical analysis very useful in that it is a study that draws conclusions from all the information gathered. The paper also focuses on the participation rates in different neighborhoods and sanitation districts, trying to draw conclusions on why different areas perform better on recycling than others. The third section also details different programs that the city has introduced in the last decade to attempt to increase citywide recycling participation.
  • Rational: Perhaps one of the most central studies for the body of this paper, Optimizing Recycling in New York City is a core focus of this paper. Because this paper is so New York City specific, the statistics are extremely relevant to the central idea of my research paper. Each of the first eleven sections in this paper could be used (however briefly) in my final paper. While I will try to use as many as possible, I will certainly use the sections that talk of city programs to stimulate more recycling, the different socio-economic and neighborhood recycling rates, and the authors policy recommendations on the topic.  I will try to gauge the feasibility of these suggestions and compare them to other policy reform suggestions I find. While I will enlighten the readers on the current state of recycling in New York City, it is imperative that I read of ways to improve on the current system, whether or not that means small changes or large overhauls.
  • Source: “Optimizing Recycling in all of New York City’s Neighborhood’s.” Accessed March 17, 2013.


Extended Plastics Responsibility: Producers as Reluctant Stewards

  • Summary: The Extended Plastics Responsibility paper is relevant in many different ways when trying to discover the ways of improving the ease of recycling within New York City. Within the paper the author details the different plastic classifications and how that affects what can and can’t be recycled. Seeing that only classification one and two plastics can be recycled, what are citizens to do with the others? And can we propose a way to collect the other types of recyclables, including Styrofoam, which the paper highlights as an ongoing issue. The author specifically advocates for producer-focused policies, which is a shift from most other proposed solutions that call for government organizations to intervene. In addition, the author mentions that cities such as San Francisco collect all plastics, not just one and two classified recyclables. The paper also goes into detail about glass collection, which is not mentioned nearly as frequently as plastics are, but are also important to recycle.
  • Rational: This paper raises multiple aspects of recycling that I have not found in other research, and it is also focused on New York. The paper also highlights San Francisco, which I plan to research and include in my paper because it is the most advanced recycling city in the USA, and perhaps the world. Even though the population and layout of San Francisco is much more conducive to large scale recycling, New York City should be able to copy some of the initiatives that have been successful.  While it may not be practical to function on a zero waste policy that the author mentions, New York is definitely not functioning on maximum recycling efficiency. And while I will primarily be focusing on government initiatives that increase recycling ease and efficiency, extending producer responsibility of recyclables in the US will also certainly be included. Government initiatives forcing producers to change and adapt will also be explored.
  • Source: “Extended Plastics Responsibility: Producers as Reluctant Stewards.” Accessed April 15, 2013. zotero://attachment/60/.


Garbage and Recycling

  • Summary: The Opposing Viewpoints Series book on Garbage and Recycling contains copious of relevant and in depth information on these topics. Contrasting to most of the web sources, the Garbage and Recycling book contains a wider breadth of interconnected information. The first chapter of the book is titled ‘How Do Political and Social Systems Effect Garbage Disposal’, and it contains many sub-sections (view points) on this topic including analysis on cost efficiency and policy support. The second chapter is titled ‘Is Recycling Environmentally and Economically Successful?’, the latter half of which must be integrated with the proposed new innovations in the recycling process. The last chapter that contains information that is relevant to finding ways to increase recycling in New York City is chapter four, which is titled ’Can New Technologies Solve Waste Problems’. This part compares and contrasts the different ways of solid waste disposals including landfills and incinerators, which are important to bolster different proposed recycling initiatives and their practicality and responsibility.
  • Rational: This book will provide unique element to the research on improving the ease of recycling in New York City. Seeing as my research on what would happen post-recycling collection was somewhat limited because it is not the central focus of the paper, this book provides a good background on a facet of the process of which I did not have much knowledge of. Even so, the opening chapter is the one that I will focus on most because I am very concerned about how the government will continue to try and stimulate more environmentally responsible initiatives. This book is also interesting because within each chapter there are separate sections written by different authors with different perspectives, hence the series title ‘Opposing Viewpoints’. One of the most interesting points in this chapter talks about how mandatory recycling initiatives promote environmental awareness, and what might result if the government were to enforce more mandatory recycling programs.
  • Source: Young, Mitchell. Opposing Viewpoints: Garbage and Recycling. Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale, 2007.





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Memo 3: Annotated Bibliography, Vertical Farming

1. Cox, Stan, and David Van Tassel. “‘Vertical farming’ doesn’t stack up.” Synthesis/Regeneration, 2010.

In this source, the authors begin to describe Dickson Despommier’s concept of vertical farming as a proposal to substitute soil-based agriculture with a system of manufacturing food crops in tall urban buildings to grow crops indoors, under meticulously controlled conditions, in vertical farms. This idea develops out of the apprehension that there is not enough bare horizontal planes available in most urban areas to harvest the magnitudes of food required to feed urban populations. Cox, Stan, and David then go on to point out that if vertical farming were achievable, it would only push the dependence of food production on industrial inputs to even greater heights, rather than solve any agricultural concerns. In systems of vertical farms, the crops are being deprived of soil as well as sunlight, the most plentiful energy source of them all. The authors explain that plots of crops cannot be layered one level above the other without providing a substitute for the sunlight that has been cut off by the ceilings and walls, so the majority of the light used in the farms would have to be supplied artificially consuming resource-intensive power rather than open and plentiful free sunlight. Based on their calculations, to manufacture wheat in the US for one year, vertical farming would obligate eight times as much electricity as all US utilities generate in one year, just for lighting and producing artificial sunlight for the wheat. They then proceed to discuss the additional energy requirements involving climate control in order to achieve suitable growing conditions.

In this source, Cox, Stan, and David provide very clear and unfavorable information and statistics related to the energy consumption required for vertical farming to be feasible. This source can be useful to my research because it is important that I am aware of not only the positive outcomes produced by vertical farming, but of the many detrimental downsides of the idea. This article called attention to several expenses to be incurred when undergoing the vertical farming process that hadn’t been brought to light in previous articles I have read, such as the high energy cost of humidity and air circulation, the inconveniences and energy requirements for producing and carrying artificial growth media, fertilizers, water and other resources, thirty or so stories up and getting harvests out of the towers and bringing them back those thirty stories down, and the stake of manual labor called for. This information can be useful when considering whether the advantages brought about by vertical farming are worth all of the extra expenses and obligations that come along with it.

2. Despommier, Dickson, The Vertical Farm: Feeding The World In The 21st Century. New York Thomas Dunne Books, 2010.

In this book the author, Columbia professor, Dickson Despommier, introduces his idea of vertical farming to solve America’s food, water, and energy crises. He explains that moving our agricultural systems into high-rise city buildings would renovate the way we grow fruit, vegetables, poultry, and fish, and lighten many of the intense environmental problems we are currently facing. In his book, Despommier stresses the beneficial outcomes of vertical farming including the ability to cultivate food 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the opportunity to protect crops from unpredictable and destructive weather, to recycle and reuse water gathered from the indoor environment, increase the availability of jobs for local inhabitants, excludes the use of pesticides, fertilizers, and other harmful chemicals, reduces dependence on fossil fuels, prevents crop loss due to disease, and stops agricultural runoff. He introduces several different feasible designs for the vertical farm providing stunning illustrations and sketches of the designs, such as the “VF Type O,” proposed by Oliver Foster which takes the shape of a cylinder, the “Pyramid Farm,” proposed by Eric Ellingsen and Dickson, which blatantly takes the shape of a pyramid, and the “Aberrant Agriculture,” proposed by Scott Johnson which forms almost a dome shaped greenhouse.

The Vertical Farm: Feeding the World in the 21st Century, by Dickson Despommier contains the basic structure of my research, as the creator of the vertical farming concept gives a detailed and illustrated interpretation of his idea, sharing his thoughts and insights with readers. This source will be helpful when compiling my research because it hold the main purposes for vertical farming as well as the countless advantages that can be achieved if the system is implemented effectively and efficiently. This information is reliable and dictated by Despommier himself; therefore I will have accurate considerations and expectations regarding the vertical farming system.

3. Fletcher, Owen. “Innovations in Agriculture (A Special Report) — The Future of Agriculture May Be Up: Advocates of ‘vertical farming’ say growing crops in urban high-rises will eventually be both greener and cheaper.” Wall Street Journal. October 15, 2012.

In this source, the author Owen Fletcher introduces us to several examples of urban greenhouses developing throughout the world today. He mentions a twelve-story triangular building being constructed in Linkoping, Sweden, in which plants rotate on mechanical tracks from the top floor down to the ground floor taking full advantage of the sunlight while evenly distributing it in order to make harvesting simpler. He also discusses a three-story meatpacking plant in Chicago, in which vegetables are grown on floating rafts sustained by aquaponics, using waste from close by fish tanks for nutrients. Fletcher briefly goes over the benefits of vertical farming including apparent ones such as fewer delivery trucks consuming gas and emitting exhaust and simplified access to fresh, healthy food for city residents; as well as less obvious ones including reducing the use of pesticides, preserving more natural ecosystems to help slow climate change, and the less vulnerable we are to environmental catastrophes that disturb crops and send prices skyrocketing. He then goes on to mention a few unique farming methods used across the country implemented to save space, diminish water consumption, and avoid the need for soil. He also provides core arguments against vertical farming including opposing opinions by agricultural experts who aren’t convinced growing food indoors is simpler and more efficient than conventional farming.

This source provides useful information that supports the possibility of vertical farming as it draws from examples of urban greenhouses implemented across the world. The actual existence of the structures discussed by Fletcher in his report prove that the idea isn’t farfetched and that it is possible to employ such a vertical farm here in one of the many towering skyscrapers of New York City. This source is valuable because it is unbiased, as Fletcher considers the many benefits that can arise from vertical farming and the appraisals the idea has received as well as the critiques made by those who argue that vertical farming expends more effort, energy, and expense than the easier and more efficient method of conventional farming.

4. Murray, Peter. “Towers Of Vegetables Go Up As Singapore Builds First Vertical Farm.” Accessed March 18, 2013.

In this source, the author Peter Murray discusses the first erected vertical farm constructed in Singapore, called A-Go-Gro, which was created by the company Sky Green. The system consists of a series of aluminum towers, up to 9 meters high, with troughs where the vegetables are grown, which are rotated using a hydraulic water-driven system to ensure that all the crops receive equal distributions of sunlight. A-Go-Gro will produce 3 types of vegetables, producing an estimated 1-ton of vegetables every other day which are sold in local supermarkets. The production yield of the A-Go-Gro system is 5 to 10 times more per unit area compared to traditional farms while the greenhouses facilitate year round production protected from pests, winds, and floods, and producing consistent and reliable harvests.

This source is useful towards my research paper because it records the application of a vertical farming system that produces many benefits to its local residents and no obvious disadvantages. A-Go-Gro is a model farming system demonstrating that farming vertically is possible to be preserved at low energy and water usage, while working with nature to achieve sustainability. Patented low carbon hydraulic green technology is used to power the rotation of the towers at very low energy costs while the troughs are irrigated using an innovative flooding method, using very little water; so they are maintaining environmentally friendly technologies. The A-Go-Gro system proves that by using minimal land, water, and energy resources, we can use green urban solutions to achieve enhanced production of safe, fresh, and delicious vegetables.

5. Platt, Peter. “Vertical Farming: An Interview with Dickson Despommier.” Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture 7 (2007): 80-87. Accessed March 18, 2013. .

In this source the author, Peter Platt, is interviewing Dickson Despommier, the father of the vertical farming concept. He reveals that the idea of vertical farming was essentially conceived in 2001 as a class project when Despommier inspired his medical ecology class to “think globally and act locally” in New York City. Despommier expresses the limitless amount of plants that are capable of being grown indoors, considering the parameters necessary for growth are met. Various kinds of different and exotic crops would be grown inside these vertical farms, such as fruits and vegetables ranging from bananas and coconuts, to corn and wheat, so that we would be able to exceed consumer demand with such a variety. Despommier goes on to explain the positive effects vertical farming can produce such as restoring the hardwood forests that were sacrificed in favor of crops, while planting trees to be available for the re-absorption of CO2 from the atmosphere in the form of carbon reserves. He also demonstrates the potential dangers and risks of vertical farming and how these hazards can be mitigated, as he stressed the importance of surveillance and security in order to ensure no diseases spread throughout the farm. The water recycling process was also discussed, where Despommier explains that untreated human sewage is the initial source of energy for plant life. The system depends upon the capture of transpiration at each floor level of the farm.

This source provides a detailed and authentic interpretation of the concept of vertical farming, as it is expressed and analyzed by the creator of the idea himself, Dickson Despommier. I intend to use this source to assist me in my research paper with the clarification of the process of vertical farming including the origins of the idea and the process that is followed, as well as the main purposes it aims to serve and the benefits it seeks to produce for the environment. Not only does Despommier outline the positive outcomes of the idea, but he also points out the possible negative consequences of vertical farming, accepting that there are flaws to be found in just about any organized system, and suggests methods of mitigating or avoiding these dangers and risks. Despommier projects that a vertical farm of thirty stories and one square city block producing commercially available products such as produce, poultry, fish, and shellfish, after all expenses are paid, would end up with 80 million dollars profit. Such calculations about the parameters and profits suggest that a vertical farm in New York City can exist in reality, creating an image in our minds of a soaring tower of forests in the future of our own city.

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Memo 3. Annotated Bibliography. Preventing Future Flooding in the New York Subway System: Myth or Real Possibility?

To: Professor MacBride

From: Edson Flores

Date: April 15th, 2013

Re: Annotated Bibliography

1.- Chan, Sewell. “Why the Subways Flood.” The New York Times (New York), August 8, 2007. Accessed April 10, 2013.

In 2004, torrential downpours associated with Hurricane Frances inundated the city with more than two inches of rain an hour. Hundreds of thousands of commuters were stranded. The 1999 downpour brought 2.5 to 4 inches of rain over two hours.

As Ian Urbina of The Times explained in 2004, a quick, heavy rainfall can be a formula for chaos in the city’s subways.

As rainwater seeps through tunnel walls and flows down subway grates and stairwells, sump pumps in 280 pump rooms next to the subway tracks pull the water back up to street level. That water then naturally flows toward the storm drains — but the storm drains themselves are often unable to handle the flow of water.

From this New York Times article I plan to use the description of how the draining system of the subway has performed (or failed to do so) during major storms in the recent past. Many solutions talk about draining and pumping, but the subway system has serious drainage issues, in part due to an outdated and archaic water recollection system, but also due to clogging and garbage.

I am aware that no matter how technologically advanced the drainage system is, it can only take in so much. However, I find interesting how back in 2004 (date of storm mentioned in article) the conversation was about improving the draining and pumping systems, back then the only apparently solutions to the subway being disrupted during storms. After Sandy, technology and creativity provides more options.

2.- Crean, Sarah. “Storm Surge: An Interview With Climate Change Expert Klaus Jacob On NYC’s Post-Sandy Future | Environment.” Gotham Gazette: The Place for New York Policy and Politics. Last modified January 17, 2013.

Jacob describes his struggles to get Washington and Albany, as well as the city, to pay attention to the peril of rising sea levels; how some proposed solutions like flood gates would likely cause more trouble than they are worth; and how he thinks the city’s shrinking footprint will lead to more densely populated neighborhoods on higher ground and the loss of coastline.

Jacob became interested in New York City issues in the late 1980s when he successfully prodded local leaders to adopt a seismic building code. Since the late 1990s, he has worked largely on climate change, focusing his attention on how the rise in the sea level and storm surges will affect New York and other global cities. Mayor Michael Bloomberg appointed him to the New York City Panel on Climate Change, which was convened in 2008. Jacob has served in an advisory capacity to city and state agencies on issues related to climate change.

Dr. Jacob is the man who predicted the subways would flood during Sandy. His research and expertise make him a solid reference to consult for future expectations. The interview brings insight that the trouble doesn’t rely on the science, but rather on the economic and political side. Dr. Jacob sits on the New York City Panel on Climate Change and several other committees. He is the man responsible of steering the conversation toward what needs to be done. In the interview he questions the approach many municipalities (NYC included), have taken on implementing pumping systems and creating ocean barriers. According to him, changes are ultimately in the hands of the mayor.

3.- Geller, Adam. “AP IMPACT: NYC FLOOD PROTECTION WON’T BE EASY.” Associated Press (New York), November 26, 2012. Accessed April 10, 2013.

Sandy exposed the weaknesses of the 108-year-old subway system, including the large number of stations in flood-prone neighborhoods and the overall porosity of a network ventilated by thousands of grates set into sidewalks.

In recent years the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs the system, has begun looking for ways to defend it from water. After flooding from a 2007 storm forced closure of part of the system, the agency spent $157 million on a host of projects, including one that closed half the 1,600 grates along a low-lying avenue in Queens, raised others and installed water-activated mechanical closing devices on still more. It also hired an architecture firm to design raised grates that double as street furniture.

But those changes were designed to prevent flooding caused by rain, not storm surge, and were limited by a capital budget with little room for projects not directly related to transportation, said Projjal Dutta, the MTA’s director of sustainability initiatives.

If New York City is going to prepare for the next super storm, it can start by looking at what others have done. The comparison in this article describes the way a medical center in Texas dealt with tropical storm Allison in 2001, and what measures, if any can be applied to the New York subway system. Submarine type flood doors were installed throughout the Texas Medical Center tunnel system in Houston after severe flooding from tropical storm Allison in 2001. The floods caused a massive blackout, inundated medical center streets, and forced evacuations of patients. If metropolitan New York is going to defend itself from surges like the one that overwhelmed the region during Superstorm Sandy, decision makers can start by studying how others have fought the threat of fast-rising water.

4.- Jacob, Klaus, Noah Edelblum, and Jonathan Arnold. “RISK INCREASE TO INFRASTRUCTURE DUE TO SEA LEVEL RISE.” Climate Change and a Global City: An Assessment of the Metropolitan East Coast (MEC) Region. SECTOR REPORT: INFRASTRUCTURE (2000): Accessed April 12, 2013.

Infrastructure provides the engineered foundation for the socioeconomic functioning of population centers. Infrastructure systems consist of interconnected networks of lifelines and facilities that deliver resources, remove waste, move people, information and goods, and control to a large degree the cultural ambiance. This means bridges, roads, tunnels, buses, subways, railroads, water, sewage, power, phone, and other things we take for granted. The robustness of infrastructure systems depends on their design, state of maintenance, and the man-made, environmental and natural stresses to which they are exposed. Besides man-made stresses, weather, climate and extreme natural events such as floods, earthquakes, wind- or ice storms regularly test the vulnerability of these systems.

This is a report that examines the infrastructure of East Coast region and evaluates the capacity of response to threats like climate change. Hurricane Sandy confirmed that New York City is vulnerable to the super storms that are likely to come in the future. We witnesses the way in which our city, given its resources and infrastructure, responded to the damage Sandy left behind. Although the report was written in the year 2000, the assessment of the role infrastructures play in climate change is what interests me. The report analyzes the costs or benefits, if any, that may be incurred from climate change. Could there be cost-effective actions that can be taken to minimize negative effects on the systems or maximize the benefits?

5.- Jacob, Klaus, Cynthia Rosenzweig, Radley Horton, David Major, and Vivien Gornitz. MTA Adaptations to Climate Change. A Categorical Imperative. New York: Metropolitan Transport Authority, 2008. Accessed April 1, 2013.

Climate risks to coastal urban areas largely stem from temperature rise, changes in precipitation, and sea level rise (SLR) and consequent higher storm surges. They manifest themselves by the frequency, intensity and duration of extreme events including heat waves, droughts, river and street flooding, and storm- and sea-level-rise-induced coastal flooding. Some of the MTA systems are more vulnerable than others: low-lying fixed structures such as below-sea-level road- or subway-tunnels, or near-sea-level railroad tracks, rail yards and shops are more prone to coastal and urban street flooding than bus routes that can be readily rerouted on short notice according to flood conditions.

I chose this report since it shows what the MTA itself recognizes as vulnerable and feasible for adaptation. It is important to recognize that there is no “one size fits all” approach. For given expectations about climate change, different adaptations are appropriate for different types of facilities and their different life spans or criticalities. Rail yards, for example, may need hard protection against rising sea levels and storm surges, whereas other facilities, such as recreation areas, open space, and parking lots, can be allowed to flood temporarily at acceptable frequencies.

6.- Martinez, Xavier, Julio Davalos, Ever Barbero, Eduardo Sosa, Wade Huebsch, Ken Means, Larry Banta, and Greg Thompson. “Inflatable plug for threat mitigation in transportation tunnels.” (2012)

Tunnel safety has long been a concern for transportation and government entities. Fires, noxious fumes, deadly gasses, and flooding threats have occurred in major transportation systems from Madrid to Chicago to Tokyo. The current paper presents the Resilient Tunnel System (RTS). This is a passive protection system developed to mitigate the effects of a hazardous event in the tunnel and the connected infrastructure, by compartmentalizing it. This is achieved by adapting an existing concept: an airbag. The RTS consists of inflating at least two large airbags inside the tunnel, within a specific strategic location, to seal the compromised tunnel section. The seal provided by the airbags must be tight and conform to the tunnel geometry, so whatever occurs between the airbags does not affect the external sections of the tunnel. This paper describes the first prototype of the RTS developed, as well as the tests performed to validate its performance.

Dr. Ever Barbero from West Virginia University made the news after hurricane Sandy, he might have figured out a possible solution for the subway flooding. Dr. Barbero’s research on inflatable structures has gained a lot of fame recently since his balloon like devices could prevent tunnels from flooding. The devices works like a huge balloon that fills up the tunnel space to prevent water from inundating the tunnel. In his original paper, Dr. Barbero explains in detail the way his experiment works and if it indeed can be used in subway tunnels. Dr. Barbero also recognizes that this method doesn’t guarantee 100% effectiveness since it may allow leaks due to the irregular surface of the tunnels. However, I believe Dr. Barbero’s structure can go a long way in solving NYC’s issue of flooding since the structures are relatively cheap and no major transformation in our old subway system would be needed.

7.- Reis, Ronald A. The New York City Subway System. New York: Chelsea House, 2009.

Reis narrates the construction of the New York City subway system, and describes the evolution and changes the system has undergone through the years to meet the ever changing needs of daily passengers. Teeming with a population of 3.5 million at the end of the nineteenth century, New York City needed a subway system. After four years of digging and diverting miles of utilities and tunneling under the Harlem River, the city’s residents celebrated a new era in mass transit on October 27, 1904, with the opening of a nine-mile subway route. In the century to come, the New York subway system expanded to run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with 6,400 cars, 468 stations, a daily ridership of 4.5 million, and 842 miles of track-longer than the distance from New York to Chicago. Politics, graffiti, and construction challenges combined to make the building and running of the New York subway system one of the America’s greatest civic undertakings.

In the wake of hurricane Sandy, the vulnerability of the New York City subway system arouse several questions of what can be done, if anything, to prevent future shutdowns due to severe weather. In order to address these questions one must understand how the subway system was originally thought and designed. Reis provides the historical context in the construction of the subway lines, and the changes that have been made ever since. Naturally, the subway was built according to the transportation needs and building capacity of the time. What I find interesting is the understandable disregard to major storm activity, and the resulting flooding of tunnels. It shows that at the beginning of the twentieth century, issues like climate change and flood hazard mitigation were not part of the conversation.

8.- Rosenzweig, C., W. Solecki, A. DeGaetano, M. O’Grady, S. Hassol, and P. Grabhorn. Responding to Climate Change in New York State: The ClimAID Integrated Assessment for Effective Climate Change Adaptation. Albany, New York: New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), 2011. Accessed April 1, 2013.

ClimAID: the Integrated Assessment for Effective Climate Change Adaptation Strategies in New York State was undertaken to provide decision-makers with cutting edge information on the state’s vulnerability to climate change and to facilitate the development of adaptation strategies informed by both local experience and scientific knowledge. This state-level assessment of climate change impacts is specifically geared to assist in the development of adaptation strategies. It acknowledges the need to plan for and adapt to climate change impacts in a range of sectors: Water Resources, Coastal Zones, Ecosystems, Agriculture, Energy, Transportation, Telecommunications, and Public Health.

The author team for this report is composed of university and research scientists who are specialists in climate change science, impacts, and adaptation. To ensure that the information provided would be relevant to decisions made by public and private sector practitioners, stakeholders from state and local agencies, non-profit organizations, and the business community participated in the process as well.

Hurricane Sandy put the spotlight on New York City’s adaptation to climate change. However, assessments and recommendations have been made before hurricane Sandy, in fact many could have prevented a great deal of trouble should they have been implemented. This report put together by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority in 2011, provides useful information to decision-makers, such as state officials, city planners, water and energy managers, farmers, business owners, and others as they begin responding to climate change in New York State. I am particularly interested in the chapters regarding transportation, since it goes through the vulnerabilities of our city’s 108 year-old subway system. Given the continuous flooding the NYC subway system is subject to, an obvious but partial solution would be to implement a series of upgrades. However, the science and technology must first go through the economics. To understand the viability and cost-benefit analysis of adaptation, I am interested in the economic analysis of climate change impact and adaptations presented as an annex in this report.

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Memo 3: Annotated Bibliography: Virtual Trees

To: Professor MacBride

From: Richard Chan, Amanda Huang

Date: April 15, 2013

Re: Artificial Trees

Artificial Trees: The Annotated Bibliography

1. Keith, David W., Minh Ha-Duong, and Joshuah K. Stolaroff. “Climate Strategy with Co2 Capture from the Air.” Climatic Change 74, no. 1–3 (January 2006): 17–45.

This journal article goes into detail the thermodynamics, physics, mathematics, chemistry and other limits of carbon capture. This is a hypothetical set of calculations, with the intent to identify the outer limits of this particular carbon capture technology, and using it as a baseline for more realistic scenarios. It then extrapolates from those hypothetical limits a more reasonable cost-benefit analysis argument, identifying energy outputs and costs, both physical and economic, as well as a predictive risk analysis of atmospheric carbon levels with and without the carbon capture technology, as well as various scenarios, presumably to cover the range of best- and worst-case scenarios. The appendices of this article are ripe with data, and more critically, an almost step-by-step analysis of an example carbon capturing tower device. All of the information is made with the presumption and notion that such technology is well within reach by current standards, and has simply yet to be implemented on a large scale.

This source is incredibly rich in detailing many important variables regarding carbon capture technology. While the example is not exactly an artificial, carbon-capturing “tree”, it uses the same chemical process, and functions fairly similarly, if not identically, as that which is described by the artificial tree and carbon capture pioneer Klaus Lackner. The source details the energy required for carbon capture (that is, in Joules), the space in which such technology must be deployed in (the amount of carbon captured within a time frame), the costs that would entail the capture of carbon, and future projections depending on how this technology is implemented. Appendix B shows, in extreme detail, how such a device will work, down to the chemical reactions of sorbents and recycling sorbent materials, with an example device with hypothetical conditions, as well as an excellent diagram of the process. Such a description will be paramount in relating this technology into realistic terms, as it may provide a foundation in which further extrapolatory analyses may be considered, beyond the scope of the article and implemented on a New York City scale.

2. Lackner, Klaus S., Patrick Grimes, and Hans-J. Ziock. “Capturing Carbon Dioxide From Air,” 2001.

Capturing Carbon Dioxide from Air explores the feasibility of air extraction in terms of technology and cost. Though alternative sources to carbonaceous fuels have been proposed, Klaus, Grimes, and Ziock argue that this technology poses multiple obstacles. For starters, it is not economically beneficial. It would also take much longer to make the transition to alternatively-fueled vehicles and may render existing energy and transportation infrastructure obsolete. Carbon dioxide capture, on the other hand, could collect CO₂ emissions after the fact, from any source, does not require a network of pipelines to the disposal site, and can be implemented virtually immediately.. The burden of the cost lies more in sorbent recovery than the actual process of capturing. Essentially, the atmosphere would serve as a temporary storage and transport system.

Klaus, Grimes, and Ziock then do a dimensional analysis, concluding that extracting CO₂ is more efficient than collecting wind energy. Their analysis estimated that using alkaline solutions of Ca(OH)₂ as a sorbent will result in $10-$15 per ton of CO₂ and 3 cents worth of coal per gallon of gasoline. Though there is energy and CO₂ released during this process, it is significantly lower than what it removes. The cost could still be lowered by using other sorbents with lower binding energies and chemical kinetics. The researchers also explored the overall scale of capturing carbon. This source details preliminary research and exploration performed by Klaus and his team prior to development of artificial trees. These beginning studies lead to the feasibility of the extraction of CO₂ from the air, as well as further investigation of other potential solvents and process design.

3. Figueroa, José D., Timothy Fout, Sean Plasynski, Howard McIlvried, and Rameshwar D. Srivastava. “Advances in CO2 Capture technology—The U.S. Department of Energy’s Carbon Sequestration Program.” International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control 2, no. 1 (January 2008): 9–20. doi:10.1016/S1750-5836(07)00094-1.

This journal article is about the governmental pursuit of reducing carbon dioxide from the air. It addresses the United States’ concern over the rate at which carbon dioxide concentration is increasing, and will increase in the coming decades. The article describes three potential solutions to solving the problem of exhaust output from productions facilities: post-combustion, pre-combustion, and oxy-combustion systems. Post-combustion methods involve the removal of carbon dioxide after the fuel is burned, via the flue gas. Pre-combustion methods involve the removal of carbon dioxide prior to burning, which may result in the production of (and subsequent use of) synthetic hydrogen gas. Oxy-combustion methods emphasize the concentration of carbon dioxide within the flue gas, which, when burned, leave primarily water and carbon dioxide, resulting is more ease in extracting the carbon dioxide for sequestration. Each technique has its own advantages, disadvantages, and limitations of application; thus, every option is explored to maximize usage in their respective niches.

This particular article does not explain how an artificial tree works. Rather, it explains a separate yet intriguingly similar technology: extracting and siphoning carbon dioxide from power plants. While artificial trees are intended to scrub relatively ambient air for carbon dioxide, these techniques are meant for generally more concentrated levels of carbon dioxide, given their proximities to heavy levels of exhaust. Thus, this article provides an effective backbone to our research on artificial trees. Its lengthy supplementation of various sorbent technologies, explained in fair detail and quite vital in understanding not only Klaus Lackner’s intended design, but alternatives as well. The governmental backing of this article lends much credibility in the success of such technology; as Lackner’s designs are essentially an offshoot from carbon capture filters for power plants, implementation of this technology within New York City seems more realistic and predictable, however improbable an actual implementation of artificial trees may or may not be (it’s a bit of arguing “if so, then why not”).

4. Anderson, Soren, and Richard Newell. “Prospects for Carbon Capture and Storage Technologies.” Annual Review of Environment and Resources 29, no. 1 (2004): 109–142. doi:10.1146/

This journal article describes broadly the feasibilities of carbon capture and storage technologies. It goes into some detail about various techniques of capturing carbon, from flue gas scrubbing to gasifying coal to oxy-combustion. It also compares the application and costs of carbon capture technology to several key industries, ranging from oil refining to cement mixing, that produce significant amounts of carbon dioxide exhaust. It then goes on to describe the costs and methods of moving and sequestering the carbon dioxide for more permanent storage. Finally, it lists alternative uses for carbon dioxide, aside from sequestering it into reservoirs, as well as address concerns regarding the storage and transport of carbon dioxide, especially the potential for leakage. Much of the article speaks in terms of costs and rates, as well as potential hazards. There is also some arguments for using carbon capture and storage technology for electricity generation, with accompanying models.

The major addressing point that we will derive from this article is the sequestration aspect. Most of the other sources focus primarily and extensively on the capture aspect, but few address the costs of what to do with that captured gas. The costs of piping carbon dioxide is laid out in a surprisingly simple equation (which, while being wary in its overly simplistic form, will nevertheless provide a bedrock for further calculations). Details into the effectiveness of certain reservoirs provide us with a way to analytically calculate the storage of locations nearest New York City (given that the Marcellus Shale Formation is obviously out of the question). Thus, two contingencies are covered: if nearby reservoirs are impractical, then pipeline costs is primary to reservoir costs, and vice versa. The idea of oceanic sequestering is incredibly intriguing, and should be considered an option (albeit a very hazardly one), given New York City’s geographic position.

5. Lackner, K. S. “Capture of Carbon Dioxide from Ambient Air.” The European Physical Journal Special Topics 176, no. 1 (September 1, 2009): 93–106. doi:10.1140/epjst/e2009-01150-3.

Unlike the journal article of a similar title, Lackner here goes into fine detail about his studies that culminated in a prototype carbon dioxide collection device. He uses a great deal of values and rates to describe the amount of energy needed to facilitate the scrubbing reaction, from mols to wattage. Several equations and scientific concepts set the backdrop for his concept of a passive, sorbent-based air collector. The concept is fraught with numerical details, considering variables such as wind speed and size of the collector. He also goes on to consider the type of sorbent material to be used in his concept device; rather than generic chemicals such as sodium hydroxide, his sorbent, amine-based resin seems more proprietary. His experiments and subsequent modifications then resulted in a prototype, one that could capture more carbon dioxide than it would produce via electricity. Finally, he leaves a word on future possibilities, including larger-scale and/or more efficient products.

This journal source is essentially the prime source about artificial trees, given Lackner’s involvement in this field more than anyone else (presumably, from data-gathering). Lackner puts forth all manner of scientific vernacular in describing his concept of an artificial tree to a tee. It also provides a level of redundancy with journal articles like that compiled by Keith, et. al. For the finest levels of detail, it would be paramount to use this source as the baseline for other articles to compare with, from construction technique to rate of scrubbing to sorbent material; it can also bind information from flue gas scrubbing of power plants and such, which use similar technology. With sufficient data concerning the conditions of New York City, it shouldn’t be too difficult to hypothetically, if not realistically, apply Lackner’s prototype to a cityscape or surburban scenario. The details to his sorbent resin material, which is never named, though is dealt with in depth, is vital in its own right in assessing his design, which may not be possible with generic sorbents.

6. Herzog, Howard J. “Peer Reviewed: What Future for Carbon Capture and Sequestration?” Environmental Science & Technology 35, no. 7 (April 1, 2001): 148A–153A. doi:10.1021/es012307j.

This article explores carbon sequestration that calls for enhancing uptake of CO₂ in natural sinks (soils, vegetation, and/or the ocean). The concept behind carbon capture and sequestration is derived from similar technologies used to lower SO₂, NOₓ, and particulates, and other pollutant emissions. This article is extremely useful in detailing the sources to capture and store anthropocentric CO₂. Prime sources to capture large quantities of carbon dioxide can come from industrial processes, power plants, or producing hydrogen fuels from carbon-rich feedstock. This carbon can be stored in geological sinks, such as deep saline formations, depleted reservoirs, and coal seams. Sequestering the carbon can be done by a combination of displacement, dissolution, and reaction of CO₂ with present minerals.

The article went on to discuss the Sleipner Project, which is the first commercial use of carbon capture and sequestration technology. Sleipner is being carefully monitored as it sets the precedent for future potential CO₂ injection projects. Other programs, such as the Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth are also discussed and explored as foundations to further projects. It is essential to study these projects to ensure that sequestration is safe, practical, and environmentally sound. Since the ocean and atmosphere are ever changing, it is estimated that 15-20% will escape over a few centuries. In extremely high concentrations, CO₂ can cause suffocation. Though geological formations are thought of as insensitive, some are located near populated areas. The article argues that the best way to address these safety concerns is to conduct more simulated and closely supervised projects.

*Cited using Chicago Manual Style (full note).

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Memo 3: Annotated Bibliography-Composting in New York City

To: Professor MacBride

From: Kelly Wu

Date: April 15, 2013

Re: Composting in New York City: Residential, Institutional, and Municipal Scales


“Hunts Point Food Distribution Center: Organics Recovery Feasibility Study.” 2005. New York City: DSM Environmental Services.

Summary: The New York City Economic Development Corporation investigated the feasibility of implementing a composting facility near the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center. The Hunts Point Food Distribution Center offers produce to retailers in New York City, generating “approximately 27,400 tons of waste per year…111 tons per day,” of which “three-quarters” are biodegradable (“Hunts Point Food Distribution Center: Organics Recovery Feasibility Study” 2005). The study revealed that anaerobic digestion would be most suitable for an institution like the Hunts Point Market. Bacteria would break down organic compounds without oxygen, creating methane and carbon dioxide in the process. Because anaerobic digestion is initiated in a regulated environment, the methane generated from this process can also be used as a potential energy source. The study also predicted that the compost produced after anaerobic digestion could be sold, creating another source of revenue for its vendors. The operation of the facility would also create potential jobs for those unemployed and significantly reduce the amount of waste exported to facilities located outside of New York. However, despite its many potential benefits, residents around the area do not want a composting site located near their homes. Some vendors believe that a composting facility will negatively impact their businesses because of the stigma associated with composting sites. The study also points out that if New York City agencies were to encourage this idea by providing land, permits, and grants, then the possibility of implementing a composting facility at Hunts Point would be significantly increased.

 Rationale: The Hunts Point Produce Market serves as a great example of how an institution can benefit from a composting facility. The Hunts Point Produce Market is a unique institution in that large amounts of biodegradable and organic waste would be generated from the market on a daily basis. There is a significant need for composting at Hunts Point, and significant benefits will inevitably arise from it, as shown by the statistics in this report. However, despite its many benefits, there are still substantial obstacles to overcome before its implementation. The stigma associated with composting facilities remains a significant problem. Institutional composting is no longer just a matter of costs and benefits, but a matter of radically changing the mindset of people, especially in a city like New York. Government agencies, as this report suggested, can take measures to motivate people to adopt institutional composting. Institutional composting requires a working and understanding relationship with all parties involved, because its success or failure is highly dependent on it.

Lange, Robert. 1999a. “Backyard Composting in NYC: A Program Evaluation”. New York City:

 Summary: The Department of Sanitation investigated the potential benefits of backyard composting in New York City through the implementation of a Backyard Composting Pilot Project. Complications arose when the pilot program revealed that “only one-third of all New York households, or approximately 930,000 homes” had access to backyards (Lange 1999). The segment of the population that had an access to a backyard coupled with an interest in composting was even more minor. Not only did backyard composting have low potential participation rates, but the program also showed that residential composting would have a negligible bearing on the diversion of municipal waste. Despite its failed efforts in redirecting organic waste from landfills, the program still showed many benefits that emerged indirectly from backyard composting, such as improved recycling rates and greater awareness of waste management. Other programs that resulted from the backyard-composting program, such as Compost Giveback days and organic waste workshops, led to better community involvement. In addition, those that participated in the program felt that they were playing an active role in protecting the environment.

 Rationale: This report shows that composting at the residential level is not efficient, especially based on the statistics that resulted from this study. However, something inefficient in terms of statistics does not automatically mean that it is unworthy of practice. Because of this program, the people who engaged in backyard composting actually felt like they were contributing to the health and welfare of the environment.  It even inspired and encouraged people to reflect upon their past consumption and disposal habits. Composting also served as an effective way of educating New Yorkers about waste management techniques. While past waste management strategies encouraged a nonchalant and detached mentality regarding waste, backyard composting urged New Yorkers to assume responsibility of their own waste. Backyard composting might not be efficient in terms of participation and diversion rates, but it remains vital to the psyche and education of New York City residents, which is arguably much more valuable than statistics.

 ———. 1999b. “Composting in NYC: A Complete Program History”. New York City:

 Summary: Over the past decade, the Bureau of Waste Prevention, Reuse and Recycling has explored the possibility of utilizing composting as a waste disposal strategy in New York City. The many different programs to investigate composting revealed the increasing importance of other viable disposal methods of organic waste, especially after the Fresh Kills Landfill closure in 2001.  To look at the future of New York City in relation to composting, the Department of Sanitation emphasized the importance for New York City to understand the “three essential levels of composting” (Lange 1999). Composting can be accomplished in three scales: residential, institutional, and municipal. Residential composting happens at the smallest scale, usually involving the placement of composting bins in residents’ backyards to dispose of biodegradable waste generated from each household. Institutional composting involves composting at different establishments such as, “schools, museums, and City agencies,” and then diverting the waste collected to a composting facility situated near the institution (Lange 1999). Finally, municipal composting, also the largest level of composting, involves collecting and composting all of the city’s organic waste. New York City’s unique environment presents benefits and obstacles to all three levels of composting.

 Rationale: In order to investigate the viability of composting as a waste disposal strategy, it is important to first think about how composting can be implemented in New York City. The benefits of composting are undeniable, but the way in which composting is incorporated into the city must be given further thought due to New York’s densely populated environment. This report’s definition of the three levels of composting (residential, institutional, and municipal) can be used as an angle to evaluate the efficiency of composting and as a means to develop New York City waste disposal policies. Rather than looking at the cost and benefits associated with composting in general, assessing composting in terms of the specific levels can prove to be much more practical. Looking at composting at the residential, institutional, and municipal scale can lead to specific, rather than general, insight on what difficulties are present with each level. I plan on using the three scales of composting as an approach to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of composting, thereby discovering what level of composting can prove to be the most efficient and suitable for New York City.

 ———. 2004. “Municipal Solid Waste Composting Report”. New York City.

Summary: The Bureau of Waste Prevention, Reuse and Recycling attempted to assess whether or not composting is a worthy waste management strategy for the Department of Sanitation to adopt. Composting on the municipal scale tends to involve further complications because residents are not motivated to separate their waste. Even if residents did separate their biodegradable waste, additional transportation that collected only organic wastes would be required, thereby decreasing efficiency levels. Therefore, composting on the municipal scale did not seem like a viable way to treat waste in the past. However, the “residential waste stream is “63.8% degradable and 36.2 non-degradable,” while “the institutional waste stream is 74.5% degradable and 35.5% non-degradable” (Lange 2004). The percentage of biodegradable waste in the city’s waste stream shows that waste can be significantly diverted if it was composted. With mixed waste composting, residents can continue to dispose of their waste as before, and have the ability to capture 100% of its degradable waste stream.  The city’s waste would no longer have to be sent to a landfill, thereby decreasing the amount of methane gas released into the atmosphere. Unfortunately, because of the nature of mixed waste, an extensive examination process is necessary in order to remove contaminants after its collection, which can lead to escalated costs if not monitored. In a pilot study, 500 tons of mixed waste was collected from Staten Island and then sent to a composting facility in Marlborough, Massachusetts for intensive examination. The study predicted the cost of a municipal solid waste composting facility to be $75 per ton, which is $20 less per ton compared to the city’s usual disposal methods. Most importantly, the compost generated from mixed waste met Class I compost standards and pollution requirements.

 Rationale: Composting at the municipal scale used to be inefficient for a city like New York to consider because of its dense population. Sending the city’s waste to a landfill was also the most effective way to treat waste in the economic sense, but obviously not the environmental sense. However, if mixed waste composting can be accomplished on the municipal level, then New York City can have a potential waste management strategy that can be efficient in both the financial and environmental sense. Seeing the statistics derived from this report, it is obvious that mixed waste composting on the municipal scale merits further research and development. If a viable waste management strategy emerges, it is the city’s responsibility to further explore the options and overcome the obstacles associated with each option. However, it is also important to consider where the composting facility would be located if such a program was implemented. Should the facility be housed in the city’s borders or would the city choose to transport its waste to a place such as Marlborough, Massachusetts? New York City has the duty to handle its own wastes, and looking into sustainable waste management strategies is just a start.

 Ligon, Paul. 2003. “Rikers Composting Project Report”. Massachusetts: Tellus Institute.

Summary: Rikers Island, the “largest municipal jail complex in the United States,” is an example of a densely populated institution situated in a relatively confined area (Ligon 2003). It generates “approximately 7,000 tons of food waste annually,” most of which was transported to the Fresh Kills Landfill prior to 2001 (Ligon 2003). The amount of organic waste produced by this institution makes it suitable for institutional composting, thereby inspiring the implementation of its Compost Project. Organic waste is first separated and then collected using color-coded plastic containers. The waste is transported to a composting facility situated nearby, where the utilization of an in-vessel, agitated bay technique is applied to initiate the composting of the organic material. Rikers Island’s composting facility conscientiously mitigates odors by keeping the facility under negative air pressure, preventing odorous airs from escape. In addition, the application of a biofilter system, a system containing microorganisms, also eliminates compounds from the compost that produce smells. Because certain parts of Rikers Island used to be a landfill, the compost produced from this process is then used to restore soil quality in portions of the Island, thus creating a sustainable system. The Compost Project in Rikers Island has led to reduced costs and minimized environmental impact of the island, with little expense to the island’s prisoners.

 Rationale: The Compost Project at Rikers Island is a prime example of composting at the institutional level. When large quantities of organic waste are generated in a relatively confined space, such as Rikers Island, it enables the efficient collection of waste and potential cost savings. This self-sustaining Compost Project reveals that composting on the institutional level can be accomplished in a conscientious and proficient way. However, Rikers Island differs from any other institution in New York City. It has enough space that can be allocated to situate a composting facility nearby, minimizing transportation costs. It has a supply of labor that can readily separate and sort out the waste prior to its transportation, minimizing contamination costs. In addition, the inmates housed at Rikers Island had and have minimal say in the implementation of a composting facility nearby. Other institutions in New York City might not be able to afford the space, time, and labor required for institutional composting. Without the space to house a composting facility nearby and labor to separate the waste, costs can escalate rapidly. Residents nearby might not desire a composting facility, which might even lead to public outcry. Rikers Island’s composting facility serves to show that institutional composting definitely merits further research and development, but the type of institutions that is suitable for composting also needs to be kept in mind. The successes of composting at one institution may not be applied to all institutions.

 Norgaard, Kari. 2011. Living in Denial: Climate Change, Emotions, and Everyday Life. Massachusetts: MIT Press.

Summary: Kari Norgaard’s “Climate Change and Background Noise” describes powerful feelings of fear, helplessness, and guilt active in the United States in relation to climate change. With climate change rife with so many uncertainties and risks, many feel that they are helpless in the situation and victims of their political system. Fearful of future impending natural disasters, guilty because of their own contributions to climate change, and helpless due to feelings of incompetence, many have no idea how to deal with climate change. Faced with the enormity of climate change, these feelings of fear, helplessness, and guilt combine to make climate change fade into ignored “background noise” (Norgaard 2011). It is difficult to imagine how the power of an individual or even a city can alter the course of climate change, but such feelings encourage even more inactivity among United States citizens. For the most part, people have accepted climate change to be true, but they continue to behave in ways that do not reflect the acceptance of this knowledge, which is no less worse than outright “denial” (Norgaard 2011).

Rationale: Feelings of fear, guilt, and helplessness can lead to a vicious cycle of denial.  If caught up in this vicious cycle, climate change would just continue to escalate until it’s too late. However, composting on the residential level encourages New Yorkers to take part in fighting against climate change.  With backyard composting, New Yorkers can lessen their feelings of helplessness by actively reducing their own organic waste and educating themselves on waste management in the process.  Although this might not actually stop climate change on a global level, the feeling of agency, the idea that everyone can play a part in reducing their own environmental impact is invaluable to the psyche of New Yorkers. Ultimately, people need to be knowledgeable about climate change, and those that are educated about it need to be reassured that they can help. The average person might not have much control over their political system or the decision making of corporations in relation to the environment at large. However, they do have control over their own consumption and disposal habits, which backyard composting urges people to reflect upon.

 Pellow, David. 2007. Resisting Global Toxics: Transnational Movements for Environmental Justice. Massachusetts: MIT Press.

 Summary: David Pellow highlights how prevailing and dominant environmental racism can be, transcending local, national, and international boundaries. Developed nations such as the United States send their waste to marginalized neighborhoods or countries, letting those without a voice reap all the negative costs of poor waste management policies.  The United States’ waste management strategies encourage an “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” mentality and attitude towards waste disposal (Pellow 2007). Towns such as Chester have been the victims of this mentality and attitude, and residents have been exposed to carcinogenic and toxic waste for years. The waste generated by wealthier cities may be “out-of-mind” to some, but very much a reality to the residents of Chester. While people of developed nations continue to consume and dispose waste in immeasurable quantities, the forgotten nation or neighborhood becomes even more disempowered and helpless. Since every society produces waste, it is necessary for the implementation of better and more sustainable waste disposal strategies in order to prevent further exploitation of the disempowered.

 Rationale: Disempowered nations or neighborhoods do not have the responsibility or obligation to treat the waste of a developed nation or city. It is arguably each nation’s own duty to treat the waste generated within in its borders. Like Pellow says, every society produces waste, and this cannot be avoided. However, waste does not magically disappear after its disposal. If a city chooses to treat and manage its own waste through composting, where would such facility be implemented?  Would the government plan to have the facility situated in a disempowered neighborhood instead of a disempowered country? If no one is willing to place a composting facility in his or her neighborhood, how could New York City manage to treat its own waste? Would New York City have to resort to exporting their waste outside its borders again? Composting definitely has its merits, but additional aspects such as location, public participation, and community concern must be considered as well.

*Cited using Chicago Manual Style (author-date)


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Memo 3: Annotated Bibliography

To: Professor MacBride

From: Yana Manevich

RE: PlaNYC Solid Waste Management Organics Recovery Initiative

Date: April 15, 2013

1.    The City of New York, “PlaNYC Solid Waste Chapter.” Last modified April 2011. Accessed April 13, 2013.

Summary: PlaNYC’s chapter on Solid Waste details New York City’s comprehensive sustainability plan regarding solid waste management in the city. It lists a total of 13 initiatives that the city plans to undertake with the goals of reducing waste, increasing resource recovery from the city’s waste stream, and overall improving the efficiency of New York City’s waste management system. My focus for my research paper is on PlaNYC’s initiative to “create additional opportunities to recover organic material”, which ties into it’s goals of increasing the city’s resource recovery. The report begins by stating that 30% of residential and 18% of commercial wastes are organic – largely comprised of food waste, but also from things such as textiles and leaf and yard wastes.  Transporting this material to landfills, the report claims, is not only costly but also a big source of GHG emissions, and properly treating and separating these organics would be cost-effective and provide a valuable resource for energy generation and other applications. The plan then goes on to outline specific actions it plans to take in addressing these issues and meeting its goals. These include expanding outreach and launch grants for community and city-wide compost projects and evaluating pilot programs of on-site dewatering units throughout the city.

Rationale: This source will serve as an introductory jumping off point for my paper and subsequent research. The report provides a great overview of where New York City is at currently in their solid waste management, what they want to do to improve their efficiency, how they plan to do so, and why it is important.  I will use all of this in setting up my paper’s introduction, and also in developing my research about the specific actions the plan proposes – what progress has been made, the pros and cons of the city’s action plan, and any new technologies the city may want to consider in helping it reach it’s sustainability goals. Going off of the information presented here, I will look into how exactly recovered organics could be valuable resources to New York City, research more about on-site dewatering units and aerobic and anaerobic digestion and how that my benefit New York City and whether other sustainable cities have found success in similar technologies, and look into various community outreach programs New York City has initiated and the response they have been met with.

2.     O’Connell, Kim A. “Sorting out solid waste budgets.” American City & County. no. 5 (2003): 28-38.

Summary: This article about how faltering economies and budget cuts have serious effects on municipal solid waste departments and budgets, although published in May 2003, has regained relevance in light of the recent economic downturn and budget cuts that have effected and are still effecting various government programs, including those in New York City. The article mentions that when faced with budget cuts, cities usually protect the core parts of their operations, such as garbage pickup and disposal, because of their necessity, and the programs that are usually left on the cutting room floor are secondary operations, such as recycling and special waste pick-ups and management – both of which are important to a city’s sustainability. Recycling budgets are often the first to go, the article mentions, because of the difficulties associated with being able to forecast long-term revenues from recycling – even though we all know that both the revenue and environmental benefits are there. The article also mentions, however, that some municipalities’ departments have managed to stay relatively unaffected by budget cuts as a result of either being supported by dedicated funds, locked into long-term contracts, or operate as free-standing economic entities which instead of being dependent on government revenues, charge user fees to people who use their services. New York City, however, was mentioned at one of the cities whose waste departments are affected by budget cuts. One expert quoted in the article suggested that New York is particularly vulnerable to economic fluctuations because we export our wastes rather than dealing with them internally. The article goes on to list a number of cities that have had successes in managing their solid waste management departments even in the face of economic turmoil and outlines the various ways they have been able to do so. Those cities include Dover, Delaware, Palm Beach County, Florida, and San Francisco, California. Unfortunately, New York City was not on that list, and could perhaps stand to learn a thing or two from how the other cities listed have budgeted their spending on solid waste management.

Rationale: I think that the economics behind any initiative or program are very important factors to considering when evaluating its feasibility. This article is very relevant to New York City today, in lieu of the recent recession and budget cuts the city is facing. I will use this source to point out the possible difficulties and setbacks that PlaNYC’s solid waste management initiatives, including organic waste recovery – which is dependent on new and costly technologies – may face. Using this article’s points will help me elaborate on what other cities have successfully done to combat budget cuts and point out areas where New York City is possibly flawed in its conceptions. I agree with a lot of the article’s points about what type of departments are more economically stable and think that New York City should definitely consider restructuring the financials of their waste and sanitation departments if it wants the initiatives it outlined in PlaNYC to be practical and timely.

3.     Environmental Protection Agency, “WasteWise Update: Recovering Organic Wastes-Giving Back to Mother Nature.” Last modified September 1999. Accessed April 13, 2013.

Summary: This report by the Environmental Protection Agency outlines why organic waste diversion is important and the type of benefits it provides. It states that composting organic materials can reduce the need for fertilizers and pesticides, while also helping soil retain water better and talks about how it can help to both prevent and mitigate pollution. The report focuses on a lot of the materials that PlaNYC mentions in its organic recovery initiative, such as yard trimmings and food wastes. It describes in detail popular composting methods such as Static Pile Composting, Aerated Windrow Composting, In-Vessel Composting, and Vermicomposting as well as breaking down the entire composting process. It also goes on to provide a number of examples of how various cities or facilities have been successful in their organic recovery efforts and the methods they used. Kalamazoo County, Michigan, for example, initiated grasscycling – which not only cut costs but also helped to return vital nutrients to the area’s soil. The report also mentions a Cherokee Casino’s successes in food waste composting, and how Tennessee Correctional Facility, when faced with the challenge of cutting costs and reducing its solid waste by 75%, it has turned to composting to organic waste to meet its goals.

Rationale: This report provides helpful additional background into why it is important to recover organic wastes and how they can be useful in preventing and mitigating pollution. In addition, it provides a lot of information and detail about the specifics of common composting methods and processes, which would provide useful background information to both myself and the reader of my paper. The specific examples of successful organic composting that the report lists also serve as good benchmarks and ideas that I will list as potential possibilities for New York City to look into and how the city can adopt the practices the report mentions.

4.     NYC Department of Sanitation: Bureau of Waste Prevention, Reuse and Recycling, “Composting in NYC.” Accessed April 13, 2013.

Summary: This NYC government webpage talks about the community programs that NYC has created in order to encourage organics recovery and composting such as the NYC Local Organics Recovery Program, the NYC Department of Sanitation & GrowNYC Food Waste Drop-Off Program, and a School Food Waste Composting Pilot Program. These are all examples of the community outreach programs PlaNYC has promised to initiate, showing that they have indeed moved forward with these plans. The site also gives a basic overview of what exactly compost is, the decomposition process, and the differences between anaerobic decomposition and resulting methane production and managed decomposition such as composting. The page also links to sections that talk about New York City’s composting site at Riker’s Island and its composting process as well as information about community-based compost sites.

Rationale: This website and its related links are an essential resource to my paper as it describes all the local city initiatives the city has taken on specifically in the area of composting and recovering organic materials from its waste. This page not only gives basic overview of what composting is and how it differs from anaerobic decomposition, but it does so in the context of New York City, which in the end is the main focus of my paper. The programs described here are all examples that I will reference when speaking about PlaNYC’s accomplishments so far and how the city has been going about its proposed initiatives.

5.     Bernstad, A., L. Malmquist, C. Truedsson, and J. la Cour Jansen. “Need for improvements in physical pretreatment of source-separated household food waste.” Waste Management. no. 3 (2013): 746-754.

Summary: The study described in this report was based in Sweden with the goal of investigating whether or not more efficient pretreatment of separated solid organic household waste would increase the efficiency of anaerobic digestion and the waste’s overall treatment. Seventeen pretreatment facilities in Sweden were investigated and it was found that the biomass produced in these facilities was of low quality and the maintenance of these facilities was very costly. Four plants, using two different technologies were then tested in relation to resource efficiency. It was found that the plants using dispergator technology, as opposed to screwpress technology, were much more efficient and yielded higher nutrient recovery. This pointed to the conclusion that with improved pretreatment processes, the overall benefits of anaerobic digestion as an alternative for treating organic household waste could improve.

Rationale: While PlaNYC did advocate for the use of on-site dewatering plants and aerobic digestion rather than anaerobic, this study shows an interesting alternative to solid waste management that New York City could perhaps consider. If pretreatment of recovered organics were to improve, then perhaps anaerobic digestion would be a viable alternative for New York City’s treatment of organic waste.

6.     Yoshida, Hiroko, Joshua J. Gable, and Jae K. Park. “Evaluation of organic waste diversion alternatives for greenhouse gas reduction.” Resources, Conservation and Recycling. (2012): 1-9.

Summary: This study, from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the University of Wisconsin, evaluated and analyzed current and proposed organic waste management practices in Madison, Wisconsin, with the eventual goal of achieving zero waste and diverting all its organic wastes from Madison’ s landfill to curb methane and GHG emissions – something PlaNYC is currently trying to do as well. The study assessed four alternatives: windrow composting, high-solids anaerobic digestion, co-digestion at a large-scale industrial waste digester facility and co-digestion at a local wastewater treatment plant, along side the city’s current practice of composting yard waste but disposing the rest of the organic waste into its landfill. Each of these practices seem to be viable options for New York City, since Newton Creek is a wastewater treatment plant that has digester eggs that can potentially be used for anaerobic digestion of organics.  Costs were also a factor in this study, as they are in New York City, and the results showed that co-digestion practices were most favored, as they resulted in the highest GHG emission reductions while saving the most costs. According to the study, these results were also dependent on other factors, however, such as public participation, which New York City has been trying to promote as well. The study concluded by suggesting that the best practice for Madison would be to seek partnership opportunities with regional anaerobic digestion projects while also continuing to promote community awareness and outreach – an option that seems very viable for New York City as well.

Rationale: This study is one of the most relevant ones in relation to New York City and PlaNYC that I have found. Madison, Michigan, the location of this study, has the same goals in mind for its organic waste management as New York City seems to have – reducing GHG emissions while staying as cost-effective as possible. In addition, the alternatives tested in this study also all seem to be viable and practical for New York City to undertake. In addition, the recent time frame during which this study was conducted (March 2012) also contributes to this study’s comparable relevance, since the technologies considered and evaluated are all modern and up-to-date. I will be using the results of this study as a point of suggestion for New York City, comparing what New York City is doing to what has been suggested here. I will be pointing out that just as this study suggests, New York City has increased its community outreach efforts, and also looking at how New York City could put its digester facilities to use for organics recovery.

7.     Pires, Ana, Graca Martinho, and Ni-Bin Chang. “Solid Waste Management in European Countries: A review of systems analysis techniques.” Journal of Environmental Management. no. 4 (2011): 1033-1050.

Summary: This report focuses on current solid waste management practices and principles in the European Union. It outlines a number of the countries’ waste management practices, including those dealing with organics recovery. Policy changes such as the Thematic Strategy on the Prevention and Recycling of Waste promote GHG emission reductions through diversion from landfills and organic compost as a source of fertilizer for soil as instead of mineral fertilizers. The report also mentions some economic incentives EU countries have created such as pay-as-you-throw plans and an organic waste tax to incentivize residents to divert organics from regular waste streams, which I found to be an interesting idea.

Rationale: This report provides an insight into how other countries have dealt with issues of waste management, and gave a few fresh and interesting perspectives and ideas that could perhaps be applied to New York City. I liked the idea of economic incentives that the EU has been using and will reference this report when proposing some possible alternatives for New York City. Some cities in Europe are just as urban and congested as New York City, so I think their solid waste management practices are a fair and relevant comparison to New York, and it is always interesting to have a new perspective on worldwide issues such as this one.

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Memo 3: Annotated Bibliography for PSD’s and Flooding

To: Professor MacBridge

From: Christopher Chang

Date: 04/13/2013

Re: Subway Platform Screen Doors and Flooding.

1. Chung, Hang Jae. “SMRT’s Platform Screen Door & IT Technology,” March 18, 2013.

This PowerPoint talks about the Platform Screen Doors for the Seoul Metropolitan Rapid Train line. It dives into the statistics of Seoul’s metro lines and those that have Platform Screen Door’s. Chung talks about some of the benefits of the Platform Screen Door’s such as decreases in accidents per year, air contamination, Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) energy consumption and ambient noise. Air contamination is an important aspect of the Platform Screen Door’s because of the fact that subways are underground. Because of rain and water run off, molding of walls underground is more rampant than above ground. Also, when there are putrid smells such as fumes from track fires, the smell lingers in the tunnels underground. The PowerPoint goes as far as showing us how to actually put together the Platform Screen Door’s underground. An interesting point the PowerPoint includes is the fact that other business can actually benefit from Platform Screen Doors. The Platform Screen Door’s are mostly viewed as a safety measure against train deaths. But, they can also have billboards or advertisements on them. Businesses can pay to have their advertisements on either the walls or the Platform Screen Door’s, which is usually where most subway riders are facing anyways.

The main reason for choosing this PowerPoint is because it was relevant to connecting South Korea’s direction on subway Platform Screen Doors and the MTA’s constant talks of installing them. This PowerPoint actually served as a way to draw in investors. When reading the PowerPoint, I realized that the Platform Screen Doors could provide more than just safety. They can make being underground a healthier stay. With 1.9 billion passengers in 2009, South Korea can be considered a metropolis with a bustling transportation system. Obviously, New York City’s MTA has a much larger number of passengers. But, the fact of the matter is, South Korea’s metro system is far superior in terms of speed, cleanliness and now, safety. One of the most interesting aspects is the fact that South Korea is a country that receives insane amounts of rain because of monsoons every single year. So, the fact that their subway system have the ability to be up and running after every single rainy day or week should raise alarms to the MTA on what they are doing wrong and how can they fix them. Platform Screen Doors can be a right start.

2. Geller, Adam. “New York City Flood Protection Won’t Be Easy.”, November 27, 2012.

Mr. Geller talked about a very viable option that a hospital in Houston took to prevent flooding. In 2001, tropical storm Allison ripped through Houston severely crippling the Texas Medical Center. As a result, the Texas Medical Center installed submarine type flood doors throughout their tunnel system. The second portion of this article goes into the actual damage that Sandy caused and what it has shed light on. After a flood in 2007 in New York City, MTA reportedly spent $157 million on many projects, one of them being “closing 1600 grates along a low-lying avenue in Queens.” The article goes on to talk about many other countries subway systems including Bangkok. Bangkok, a relatively bustling but a part of a third world country, has its station entrances, which are raised several feet above ground. The number of options that the MTA can take is plenty. The third portion of this article speaks about the electric grid in New York. Protecting the electric grid is very important because there were many customers without power during Sandy’s terror and well after Sandy hit. It was well televised about the elderly in apartments at Brighton Beach who were stuck in their apartments because of blackouts and the inability to make it down the stairs. In 2009, Edison Electric Institute reported “installing lines underground in urban areas could cost up to $23 million per mile, five times the cost of lines above ground.”

The question everybody needs to ask him or herself is how can we prevent another catastrophic storm from ravaging our lands again. It is without a shadow of a doubt that a storm with the same intensity, if not higher, will make its way through New York again. This article sheds light on the different actions we can take to prevent such damage. The importance of preventing this type of damage is paramount. It is 6 months after Hurricane Sandy hit and some people are still feeling the effects of the aftermath. Whether it be to install submarine like doors in all the underground stations to prevent flooding at the source or raising the station entrances, certain steps need to be taken to avert the damage we witnessed in October 2012. This article speaks volumes because it provides us with different options and breaks down some of the damage that Sandy has caused. It goes as far as talking about protecting neighborhoods. But, for the sake of this project, it doesn’t seem as important.

3. Metrobits. “Platform Screen Doors –,” March 18, 2013.

Metrobits informational piece on Platform Screen Doors goes into many different lines that currently have been fitted with Platform Screen Doors. One of the most important parts of this informational to my research was the little summary on Saint Petersburg. Saint Petersburg was the first station to have a variation of the Platform Screen Doors. They installed Platform STEEL Doors between 1961 and 1972 in ten different stations. What is most interesting about this is that Metrobits goes on to state, “Contrary to common belief, the reason for the introduction of steel doors was not to prevent flooding.” Metrobits goes into depth with each of the stations in the world that have Platform Screen Doors. For the sake of my project, I focused more on the Korean stations and the New York stations. In Seoul, lines 2 and 9 have been fitted with Platform Screen Doors. It is planned that all the lines will have the doors by 2010. It is said that the New Second Avenue Line will have Platform Screen Doors in New York. It is expected to open in late 2016. Another great aspect of this document is the benefits it lists of Platform Screen Doors. Some of them include preventing track fires, reducing draught and air pressure caused by trains and preventing people from falling or jumping on the tracks.

The one sentence that had an impact on my research on Platform Screen Doors was the sentence about the introduction of steel doors. I had begun my research in hopes to find evidence that the Platform Screen Doors would be able to prevent flooding. But, this article was the first one that provided evidence against my hypothesis. Even though Metrobits uses the word Platform Steel Doors, they are a variation of Platform Screen Doors. It could be that the Platform Screen Doors are different in the sense that they can actually prevent flooding. But, at this point of my research, there is no evidence that point to it. The remainder of this document is very useful because it lists out which stations around the world have Platform Screen Doors and if they will be fitted with them. Finding out that the Second Avenue Line is expected to open with Platform Screen Doors leads me to believe that the MTA is actually making steps to prevent certain safety hazards, both physical and airborne. The benefits of Platform Screen Doors may not have been directly related to preventing floods underground. But, they have certain climate and health related benefits that I had not thought about before such as preventing track fires.

4. Kabak, Benjamin. “‘A Screen Door on a Submarine…’” Second Ave. Sagas, December 31, 2012.

Benjamin Kabak writes in a perspective dealing with Platform Screen Doors being a safety mechanism. With all of the homicides dealing with trains and people being pushed in, people have been looking closely at options to prevent these deaths. In December alone, there were two high profile cases where the victims were pushed into the tracks when a train was approaching. An alarming statistic was that there are usually 150 people per year that are hit by trains. According to the article, there have been many plans to install the doors in numerous stations. But, the plans keep on falling through. The article goes to talk about Crown Infrastructure, a New York based company, who would install Platform Screen Doors free of charge. The only condition would be that it would collect revenue from LED video advertising on the barriers of the Platform Screen Doors. The article goes on to talk about the 7-train extension and the new Second Avenue subway having Platform Screen Doors. An MTA spokesperson has stated that they are “cost-prohibitive” because it would cost an “estimated $1.5 million to install sliding doors along two platform edges in a new station and more to retrofit an existing station.” With 468 stations in the MTA system, it would be extremely costly.

Even though this article does not focus on the actual climate related benefits of Platform Screen Doors, it raises concerns on the financial liability of installing Platform Screen Doors. Taking a different approach with the safety concerns, the article touches upon different companies and people advocating for the doors. The architect of the JFK AirTrain advocates for the doors. But, the fact of the matter is, the JFK AirTrain is suspended above ground, which makes it a little easier to install and change things around as opposed to changing schematics underground. In regards to Crown Infrastructure, their plan is a little bit of a conundrum. Even though they may create revenues from the video advertisements, chance are there will be other companies that pay more for the advertisements. It is an uncertain situation and dishing out hundreds of millions of dollars for an uncertain investment panning out is definitely not the smart choice. The financial liability discussed in this article is very important in my research because one of the main reasons why the MTA isn’t going ahead with the proposed projects is funding. Also, retrofitting an existing station would cost more money depending on what kind of station it is too. All in all, financially, the Platform Screen Doors isn’t the smartest investment for New York City. But, in terms of health and safety, it is foolproof. It all boils down to how important health and safety is to the MTA.

5. Donohue, Pete. “MTA Exploring Using Inflatable and Expandable Devices to Seal Subway Tunnels and Prevent Type of Flooding That Crippled System During Sandy.” NY Daily News, November 26, 2012.

Pete Donohue writes about a team of engineers at West Virginia University who have developed a viable option for any metropolitan subway system to use in their tunnels to prevent flooding. It is a giant tunnel plug made out of a synthetic fiber that is similar to Kevlar. According to Ever Barbero, the principal investigator with the Resilient Plug Project, “It could be inflated with air or water.” The greatest aspect of the inflatable plug may be the fact that it could be put away in an area about 2 by 3 feet when not inflated. This is about the size of a small box. The cost of such flood plug is estimated to be about $400,000 for the prototype. The plug had impressive results in four tests as it reduced the flow of water to a manageable level to be pumped out. All signs from the article points to the plug being an actual option to preventing flooding at an economical price and practical in terms of space.

This article provides an important alternative to preventing flooding. I went about my research in a two-pronged plan. The first prong was to find information on Platform Screen Doors and if it was able to prevent flooding. The second prong was to find any other alternatives that were flood proof. I did find a lot of information on Platform Screen Doors. But, for the most part, none of the information led me to believe that it was able to prevent flooding in stations. However, I was more successful finding viable alternatives to avert flooding in New York City subway tunnels. The submarine doors in a Houston hospital from an earlier article seemed like a great idea. But, in terms of installing and time, it wouldn’t be the most efficient option. The Kevlar like plugs may prove to be the quickest and most efficient barrier against flooding right now. If the prototype is improved and mass produced, then MTA would be able to store them away at each station, two per direction, and inflate them in periods of severe flooding. A step-by-step drawing shows a specific place that the plug can be placed without restricting train traffic.

6. New York Times. “Assessing Damage From Hurricane Sandy,” October 29, 2012.

The New York Times has an amazing article on the damage from Hurricane Sandy. He goes into depth on every single aspect of the damage including public transportation, water waste, elemental problems (fire, wind) and power failures. The article takes it a step further by including specific dates and their importance. For example, the article states October 31st as the first day to recovering the subway system. Their first step was getting the water out of the tunnels. The main focus were the stations that were in Zone A such as South Ferry station and Whitehall Street. The article also indicated which specific lines were at risk for flooding. They included the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, C, F and R trains. The number of customers affected by Hurricane Sandy in terms of power was startling. In areas of New Jersey, the number of people affected reached 500,000 and nearly 200,000 for areas in New York City. The article went on to talk about the flooding and water waste specifically to New York City. It depicted the areas of mandatory evacuation. What was especially interesting was the fact that all of the wastewater treatment plants were all in Evacuation Zones.

This article was important to my research because it took a closer look at Hurricane Sandy’s path of destruction. Hurricane Sandy opened the eyes of many New Yorkers and scientists in terms of the damage that was caused in an area that hadn’t seen much destruction from flooding in the past. This article touched upon almost every single aspect of the storm from the actual rain causing flooding, the roaring wind and the fires that were caused by the storm. This article puts a microscope into the problems that we faced after the storm and certain problems that we may continue to face. The maps of New York City with descriptions of many different problems such as Evacuation zones, areas of lowest elevation and wind speeds were really helpful. They gave a visual on which parts of New York City were most vulnerable to the different weather conditions. Obviously, the areas most vulnerable were the areas closer to water. But, the fact of the matter is that there were certain parts of New York City that weren’t safe from the destruction of Hurricane Sandy. In the Jamaica Queens, Evacuation Zone C stretched from the tip of Jamaica, past the Jamaica plant and almost into the middle of Queens. This article really shed light on the actual destruction of the storm, piece by piece.

7. Yakas, Ben. “MTA Exploring Installing Sliding Doors At L Train Stations.” Gothamist, January 13, 2013.

Platform Screen Doors may be coming to a L Train near you. In December 2012, the MTA considered installing sliding doors at L Train stations. This was due to many accidents; some intentional that was publically televised in December. The Post states, “Installing the doors system-wide would be more than $1 billion.” The article talks about the Second Avenue Subway having a proposal to add sliding doors from 2007. But, nothing has seemed to matriculate from this proposal. The article goes on to talk about how political pressures from the outside can make the Platform Screen Doors a reality in New York City’s subway. Now I do not know if political pressures will be present because of all the other hot topics in today’s politics including gun control and health care. The rationale behind having the L train with Platform Screen Doors is that this is the only independent line in all of the subway system. So, it makes the most sense to have the doors installed at these stations. However, some of the problems that they may run into are retrofitting each individual station with these doors. This will ultimately cost millions depending on each station and how long these stations stretch.

Once again, the MTA are talking about Platform Screen Doors in our stations. But, this time around, it seems to be more serious. Almost every single innovation or renovation to the subway system has been tested on the L line because of the fact that the L train is the only train that runs through it. The fact that it would cost a billion dollars to have the whole subways system fitted with platform screen doors is an alarming number. However, if the federal and state government were to shift funds around, it would become completely feasible. With the whole political pressure aspect of the article, I disagree to an extent because I feel like there are more important matters at hand in terms of politics. The Newtown gun massacre has taken a spotlight in recent weeks in terms of gun control. In the future, the government may shift its focus on Platform Screen Doors. But, it would probably be on a more national scale. The plan for Platform Screen Doors seems to coming to fruition after a few years of “planning”. This is in the midst of a lawsuit between MTA and the family of a man who was thrown to his death on the tracks.

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Why I do not set minimum pages/number of entries for the annotated bibliography

Hi Folks

As you know, I posted extensive guidance on the annotated bibliography some time ago.  I did not, however, specify a minimum number of pages or entries.  Why?  Because you now should be at the point where you are thinking for yourselves about your research, gathering information in a meaningful way (not as filler or just to meet a requirement), and gearing up to write a strong final paper, which is now, for those of you who did not catch this in prior postings, a minimum of five (not seven) single spaced pages.

Like all of you, I, too was an undergraduate under a lot of pressure (back in the 1980’s), working part time.  I still recall the research papers I wrote and the research skills I gathered writing those papers as some of the more important skills and knowledge sets that I gained in college.  Approach your annotated bibliography and your final paper in the same spirit!

Let me know, as always, if you have specific questions.


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This is a follow up to the previous announcement posted at 1:35 on 4/5

Hi Again Everyone:

I have assigned you all to groups for presentation purposes. See matrix below and excel version attached for your group assignment. Here is hat to do next:

1.Email your fellow group members to find a mutually agreeable time to present at the Macaulay Conference, and come up with a title. Make sure the title is broad and general, since you all have not had a chance to discuss what your respective projects have in common in detail. You may want to select the group name I have assigned to your group, or another name.

2.The designated contact person should register with Macaulay at: as soon as everyone has agreed on a time. The designated contact person is the first person in the group by alphabetical order last name. They are bolded/talicized below.

3. Once this is done, sit back, relax, and don’t worry about next steps with regard to your group presentation until we all meet in the classroom on April 16th (some of you can’t come to the tour next week, I understand)

Do continue to work on your annotated bibliography. Everyone must submit their own final paper as planned. The only changes right now have to do with presentations.

4.On the 16th, I will discuss these developments with you in class. At the next class, April 23rd, you will have the entire class time to share your projects, discuss, and begin to formulate your group presentation. You will need to brainstorm about what you can all collectively say, based on your projects, that is compelling and relevant to the future of NYC.

5.The class after that (April 30th) will be another field trip. The class after that (May 7th) will be a practice presentation day in advance of the conference.

Let me know immediately if you have:


-Your designated contact person isn’t responsive
-For any reason at all!



Name Topic Group email – contact person is 1st person in group, bolded and italicized
RICHARD Artificial Trees Atmosphere, Air, Weather RICHARD.CHAN2@BARUCHMAIL.CUNY.EDU
AMANDA Artificial Trees Atmosphere, Air, Weather AMANDA.HUANG@BARUCHMAIL.CUNY.EDU
DEREK NYC disasters and the adaptation of infrastructure Atmosphere, Air, Weather DEREK.KU@BARUCHMAIL.CUNY.EDU
STEVEN Soot Pollution and Government Mitigation Atmosphere, Air, Weather STEVEN.SKLYAREVSKIY@BARUCHMAIL.CUNY.EDU
MEGAN The Development of the Hybrid Car Transportation MEGAN.CHIU@BARUCHMAIL.CUNY.EDU
EDSON NYC Subway – Goals and Challenges for 21st Century Transportation EDSON.FLORES@BARUCHMAIL.CUNY.EDU
RAYMOND Public Transportation and Pollution Mitigation Transportation RAYMOND.WANG@BARUCHMAIL.CUNY.EDU
HYE MIN Green Roofs against Climate Change Urban Farming and Composting HYEMIN.LEE1@BARUCHMAIL.CUNY.EDU
JESSICA Urban Farming Urban Farming and Composting JESSICA.LIN1@BARUCHMAIL.CUNY.EDU
JESSICA Vertical Farming in NYC Urban Farming and Composting JESSICA.PICCOLINO@BARUCHMAIL.CUNY.EDU
KELLY Future of Composting in NYC Urban Farming and Composting KELLY.WU1@BARUCHMAIL.CUNY.EDU


Hi Folks

this is written at 1:35 on Friday, 4/5/13.  Check your in-box for updates.

Much to my annoyance, I have found out that you have to present at the upcoming conference in groups, not as individuals.  I did not know that, and I apologize for not knowing that.  It was not made clear to me.

Fortunately, there is a lot of overlap among topics.  In the next hour or so, I am going to assign you all to groups based on your topic.  I will name one person to be the “sign up” person for the conference slot, so that this process is not delayed.

We will allot enough time in class for you all to work together on presentations, and then practice them.  Do not worry about this.  More details will be coming in the next email I send.

Thanks for your patience,

Prof. MacBride


Annotated Bibliography – guidance

Hi everyone,

As you know, your next assignment is coming up – your annotated bibliography is due by 10:30 April 15th.   Now that I have provided everyone feedback on their timelines, here is some guidance for the bibliography.  Please take the time to read it, and to educate yourself in Chicago style citation if you need it.   Many people failed to properly cite on their last assignment.   I did not penalize the assignments for this, but I expect proper citation on the next assignment.  It is up to you to verify that your citation procedure is correct.

Guidance on Assembling an Annotated Bibliography

1.  The goal of the assignment is to demonstrate to me that you are doing thorough, original research that is relevant to your research question, and informs the point you want to make in your presentation.  This will ultimately help you in the long run

2. Do not over-rely on general webpages for information.    Academic journals published online, government reports, nonprofit organization reports posted online are different than general webpages with unreviewed information posted.  (for an example of such a general webpage, see e.g.  It is fine to get your research off the ground with such sites, but remember, no one is checking this information.  Get facts from reputable, published sources.

3. Cite properly.  Use the quick reference page from the  Chicago Manual of Style.  Note that online journals and reports are cited differently in citations than simple websites.   Note also that I do not require a DOI number, URL or access date for a book or academic article that you have accessed online instead of in print.  I do require a URL and access date for a website or other purely online source.  Let me know if you have questions.

4. Recommendation: At least once, go to the library and look at some actual, full length, printed books on your subject.  Even flipping through them will give you a deeper and better perspective on your subject. The Baruch Library is good.  The New York Public Library Schwartzman Center, NYPL Science, Industry and Business Library, and Brooklyn Public Library Main Branch are works of art.

4. Here is information to include in your annotated bibliography (thank you to Ben for compiling).  Include:

  1. A full citation of the source, in a Chicago style of your choice (see above):
    • This should be easy if you’re using Zotero: right-click the source in your library and choose “generate bibliography from selected item.”
  2. A concise, selective summary of the source
    • by concise, I mean 150-350 words
    • by selective, I mean written with a particular use in mind — e.g. summarizing a particular argument the source makes that you wish to agree or disagree with, or summarizing a particular exhibit within the source that you wish to analyze.
  3. A concise yet detailed rationale for why and how you intend to use the source
    • this should relate to the selection made for the summary, and either make it explicit or begin doing the work of (dis)agreeing or analysis.
    • by concise, I again mean 150-350 words
    • by detailed, I mean to avoid single-sentence rationales, such as “I want to quote the statistics here.” Why are those statistics valuable? What will you do with them once they’re shown? Don’t assume that any mere data speaks for itself, or says the same thing to every audience; use the rationale to begin writing the follow-up paragraph.

There are many online resources and examples for you to consult, e.g. and from Purdue, or from the University of Maryland.

4. Share information with your colleagues.  There is a great deal of overlap among your topics.  This is not a competition.   Share information, ideas, divide up approaches, run things by me and each other.

5. Use assigned readings from the class, and try to make interesting connections between them and your topic.  I want you to incorporate our readings into your presentations and research.

6.  Do your research and compile your annotated bibliography with your final presentation/paper in mind.  In both deliverables, you will need to make a strong, clear, original point that is relevant in some way to Shaping the Future of NYC in an era of climate change.  The relevance can be constructed in various ways.  Again, if you are unsure, speak up!

7. In response to student concerns, I have reduced the page requirement for the final paper to a minimum of five single space pages.  Make them mean something!

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Waste-to-Energy in Sweden Timeline

Sweden is at the forefront of technology when it comes to Waste to Energy. The energy produced using their waste generate both heat and electricity, resources that are invaluable in a locale such as Scandinavia. The success of their waste management program – only 4% of their waste goes to landfills – is such that they have to import trash from Norway to satisfy their energy and heat needs. An examination of the implementation of the waste to energy system in operation in Stockholm, Sweden’s largest city, could prove vital to understanding how it can be implemented here in NYC.

1940              First Waste to Energy Plant is built in Sweden (Fortum 2011)

1948              District heating grids introduced to Sweden, which provides outlets for heat produced during the conversion of waste to energy. The compatibility of Waste to energy here is two fold. Firstly, this technology is more efficient at producing heat than it is in producing energy. And secondly centralized production of heat is also more efficient than localized boilers. (Williams 2011)

1967              Establishment of Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and the National Licensing Board for Environmental Protection under the Ministry of Agriculture. Swedish EPA established environmental regulations and the Licensing Board reviewed the development of industrial plants. (Swedish EPA 2010)

1970              Hogdalen Waste-to-Energy Power plant commissioned by the city of Stockholm. (Fortum 2011)

1979              Hogdalen Plant connected to district heating.(Fortum 2011)

1981              Moratorium on new incinerators put in place because of growing concerns about dioxins. (Yarte 1999)

1987              Ministry of Environment established in Sweden. They gave more localized control over environmental issues to county administrative boards. They also formalized the sectorial principle environmental policy. Agencies that the EPA has no direct control over, must now include environmental considerations in their policy making. (Swedish EPA 2010)

Moratorium on new incinerators repealed. (Yarte 1999)

1991              A tax on CO2 of 0.25 Swedish Kronor per kg which is about $100 per ton on the use of oil, coal, natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, petrol, and aviation fuel used in domestic travel was established. This incentivized the use of alternative fuel sources, one of which was Waste-to-Energy. (Wilson 2011)

1999              EU Landfill Directive introduced that requires member states to accept stringent technical requirements for landfilling wastes. This drives the prices for waste disposal in landfills larger, thereby making the Waste-to-Energy option more sensible. (EU Waste Directive 1999)

2000             Tax is imposed on all waste destined for landfills. It is set at 250Krona/ton or 39$/ton in its introduction. This tax was a disincentive and served to cut Sweden’s landfilling rate to what is currently 4%. (Averfall 2007)

2002             Combustible waste is banned by law from being put into landfills in Sweden. The only other way to get rid of it is through waste-to-energy. (Yarte 1999)

EU Directive on waste incineration is put into effect by Sweden. These laws led to the retrofitting of active plants, to meet the more stringent guidelines on emissions in the air, ground or water. (EU Incineration Directive 2000)

2004             Hogdanen plant capacity is expanded to 700 000 tons of waste. (Fortum 2011)

2005              Swedish government proposes waste management plans that set a target of producing 50 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020 and achieving complete carbon neutrality by 2050. (Swedish EPA 2005)

Landfilling of organic waste made illegal in Sweden. (Swedish EPA 2005)

2006             Tax is increased to 435 Krona per ton or 67$/ton on waste heading to landfills. (Averfall 2007)

European Union recognizes Waste-to-Energy technology as a renewable form of energy. European Union Waste Framework Directive treats the technology as another form of recycling.

2009             49% of all waste or roughly 236.2kg of trash per person was converted into energy. This translates to 2,173,000 tons of household waste and 2,497,830 tons of industrial waste that were treated by incineration. (Eurostat 2009)

2010              Swedish Generation Goal: “The overall goal of environmental policy is to hand over to the next generation a society in which the major environmental problems have been solved.”(Swedish EPA 2012)

2012              Sweden imports 800 000 tons of trash from neighboring Norway for incineration and gets paid for it. They produce, heat and electricity with the said waste, and return the byproducts of the process to Norway to be landfilled. (Ostund 2012)

2020             The goal is to completely eliminate dependency on oil for energy and heat. This would mean expansion in existing capacities in alternate sources of energy including incineration.(Swedish EPA 2005)

2050              Complete carbon neutrality must be achieved.



“Waste – Landfill Directive 1999.” – Environment. European Union, n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2013.

Ostlund, Catarina. “Living on Earth: Database Error.” Interview by Gellerman. Living on Earth. Public Radio International, n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2013. <>.

“Summary of the Current EU Waste Legislation.” Municipal Waste Europe. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2013.

DOCUMENT 135: United Nations Convention (1985) and Protocol (1987) on Ozone Depletion.” The Environmental Debate: A Documentary History. Amenia: Grey House Publishing, 2011. Credo Reference. Web. 19 March 2013.

Fortum Corporation Waste to Energy Sustainablity Solution, 2011.

“New Emission Limits for Waste-to-energy Plants in Sweden: By Gunnar Bergvall, National Environmental Protection Board, Box 1302, S-171 25 Solna, Sweden.” Waste Management & Research 5, no. 3 (September 1987): 403–406. doi:10.1016/0734-242X(87)90091-7.

Shaub, Walter M., and Wing. Tsang. “Dioxin Formation in Incinerators.” Environmental Science & Technology 17, no. 12 (December 1, 1983): 721–730. doi:10.1021/es00118a007.

“Environmental Objectives.” – Enviromental Objctives Portal. Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2013.

“Towards a Greener Future with Swedish Waste to Energy, The Worlds Best Example.“ Averfall Sverige: Swedish Waste Management

Yarte, Nini. “THIS WEEK; SWEDEN EXPANDS INCINERATION PLANTS, BANS LANDFILLS.” Business World 12 Apr. 1999: 32. 1999. Web. 19 Mar. 2013.

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Memo 2: Timeline of Particulate Matter

To: Professor Macbride
From: Steven Sklyarevskiy
Date: 3/19/13
Re: Particulate Matter Pollution

1885: The first incinerator in the United States is built on Governor’s Island in New York City (Martin)


1960s: New York City was burning a third of its trash in 22 municipal incinerators and 2,500 apartment incinerators. (Martin)


1971: In preparation for an outright ban, New York City prohibited new buildings to be constructed with incinerators. (EPA)


1980s: Increasing amounts of data is published regarding particulate matter at sizes of 10 microns or smaller causing or exacerbating lower respiratory tract diseases, such as chronic bronchitis, asthma, pneumonia, lung cancer, and emphysema. (Lippmann)


1982: A petition by the National Resources Defense Council regarding sub-par air quality due to incineration made its way to the U.S. Congress. A study done by the General Accounting Office within Congress, revealed a failure of the EPA to enforce regulations over private oil burners, incinerators, and factories. David Cohen, spokesman for the Air Pollution Control Agency stated that this was the first time that ”the problems with incineration from residential buildings have been brought to the E.P.A.’s attention by alarmed citizens in a detailed study like this.” (Hevesi)


1987: The Environmental Protection Agency establishes the “one-expected-exceedance” standard, which allows for up to 150 micrograms of particulate matter per cubic meter of air. An area violates this standard if it exceeds the limit more than once a year over a three-year period. (EPA)


1987: The EPA drops Total Suspended Particles (TSP) as a standard of airborne particle measurement in favor of PM index. TSP measurements fluctuated with increases in wind speed whereas the PM index measurements were solely based on size. PM10 was selected as standard because particles of that size could enter the thorax and cause damage. (Lipman 2000)


1990: The last municipal incinerator was shut down. (Martin)


1993: The last remaining apartment incinerators were shut down. (Martin)


1997: The EPA implemented the national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS), which lowered the standard for particle matter from 10 micrometers to 2.5 micrometers. Regions were separated into districts so it would be easier to see what areas do not meet the new standards. (Federal Register)


2007: The EPA adopts the Clean Air and Fine Particle Implementation Rule under the Clean Air Act, which sets specific parameters for the 39 areas (with a total population of 90 million) that did not meet the 1997 PM2.5 standards to do so. (EPA)

2012: The EPA announced a decrease in the amount of particulate matter that can be polluted from 15 micrometers per meter to 12 micrometers per meter. Analysis of this new standard is expected to yield a net benefit of $3.6 to $9 billion.

On December 14, 2012, the Environmental Protection Agency raised the standard for particulate matter for particles 2.5 micrometers or less to 12 micrograms per cubic meter. (EPA)


2017: The Environmental Protection Agency is scheduled to review the particulate matter (PM) standards and change them if necessary. (EPA)


2030: As part of PlaNYC, New York City has set out a plan to switch from #6 heating oil to #2, #4, natural gas, or bio diesel by 2015 and to drop #4 heating oil by 2030. (Ayala)





Works Cited

Lippmann, M., ed. (2000). Environmental Toxicants, 2nd edition. New York: Wiley.

Ayala, Shannon. “To Meet City Code but Not Follow Soot: The NYC “boiler Dilemma”” N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2013.

Federal Register. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2013.

Martin, Douglas. “City’s Last Waste Incinerator Is Torn Down.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 06 May 1999. Web. 18 Mar. 2013.

Hevesi, Dennis. “Hazard Seen for New York From Outdated Incinerators.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 27 Dec. 1987. Web. 18 Mar. 2013.

“Particulate Matter (PM) Standards – Table of Historical PM NAAQS.” EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2013.

“Agriculture.” EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2013.

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Virtual Trees: A Timeline

Richard Chan, Amanda Huang

1946 — Spector and Dodge report on the removal of carbon dioxide from ambient air using a packed tower with an alkaline sorbent. (Zeman 2007)

1977 — Steinberg conducts paper study on producing methanol derived from carbon dioxide sorbent towers using nuclear energy. (Zeman 2007)

~Late 1970s — Oil companies began to use the enhanced oil recovery (EOR) method of extraction, which required the pumping of liquefied carbon dioxide into depleted oil wells to recover more oil. The liquefied greenhouse gas could extract oil that may have been missed with conventional extraction methods. (Anderson, et. al 2004)

1989 — Carbon Capture and Sequestration Technologies Program at MIT, the globally recognized leader in this field, is created. This program researches technologies that capture, utilize, and store CO2 from large stationary sources. (MIT)

1992 — More than 250 scientists and engineers from 23 countries gathered in Amsterdam for the first International Conference on Carbon Dioxide Removal (ICCDR-1). (Herzog 2001)

1996 — The world’s first industrial-scale CCS project, Sleipner natural gas field in the North Sea, is established (CCP)

1998 — Eighth-grader Claire Lackner uses an aquarium pump and sodium hydroxide to capture carbon dioxide in the air for her science fair project. (Lackner 2011)

1999 — Scrubbing ambient air as a means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions is first suggested in the 24th Annual Technical Conference on Coal Utilization. (Zeman 2007)

2000 April — Eight of the world’s leading energy companies + three government organizations partner to research and develop technologies for carbon capture and sequestration as part of the CO2 Capture Project. (US DOE)

2000 July — As part of the Carbon Capture and Sequestration Technologies Program at MIT, the Carbon Sequestration Initiative, an industrial consortium, was launched. (MIT)

2003 February — The United States Federal government introduces FutureGen. FutureGen is a $1 billion initiative involved with the construction of a near zero-emissions coal-fueled power plant to produce hydrogen and electricity while using carbon capture and storage (FutureGen Alliance)

2003 June — The inaugural meeting of the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum (CSLF) was held. The CSLF is an international climate change initiative, which strives to stabilize greenhouse gas levels (Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum)

2003 — The U.S. Department of Energy establishes a budget of $54 million to research carbon capture and sequestration (US DOE)

2003 October 1 — The Southeast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (SEACARB), which is comprised of over 100 participants representing Federal and State governments, industry, academia, and non-profit organizations from 13 states is formed. Their primary goal is to develop the necessary framework and infrastructure to conduct field tests of carbon storage technologies and to evaluate options and potential opportunities for the future commercialization of carbon storage in the region (SECARB 2013)

2007 October — The Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas as Austin receives a 10-year, $38 million subcontract to conduct the first intensively monitored long-term project in the United States studying the feasibility of injecting a large volume of CO2 for underground storage (University of Texas 2007)

2008 — Obama outlined plans to develop five commercial-scale coal plants equipped with carbon capture & sequestration technology (White House)

2008 Inspired by his daughter, Klaus Lackner begins to research and develop artificial trees that can extract carbon dioxide from the air (Lackner 2011)

2009 February — President Obama and Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, also known as the “stimulus package” (White House)

2009 May — Representative Henry A. Waxman introduced a the House bill “The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009”, which asked to established a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emissions, as well as setting plans to reduce future emissions and to make current emitting systems more efficient. The bill has yet to be put to a vote. (Waxman 2009)

2009 June — FutureGen project is put on hold because of funding issues (FutureGen Alliance)

2009 October — Norway says they will almost double funding of carbon capture research to $620 million (Fineren 2009)

2009 October — At the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum, International Energy Agency chief Nobuo Tanaka calls for 850 carbon capture & sequestration projects by 2030 and 3,400 by 2050, with a total investment of more than $700 billion over the next three decades (Fineren 2009)

2009 — U.S. Department of Energy allocated REcovery Act funds to more than 25 projects that capture and sequester CO2 emissions from industrial sources into underground formations (US DOE)

2010 — U.S. Department of Energy selected an additional 22 projects that will accelerate carbon capture and storage research and development for industrial sources. This is funded with more than $575 million from the Recovery Act (US DOE)

2010 August — US Department of Energy announces retooling of FutureGen, creating FutureGen 2.0 (FutureGen Alliance)

2010 February — Obama sends memorandum to heads of 14 Executive departments and Federal agencies establishing an Interagency Task Force on Carbon Capture and Storage (White House)

2011 February — Morgan County, Illinois is chosen as the sequestration site for FutureGen 2.0 (FutureGen Alliance)

2013 Spring — Construction on FutureGen 2.0 power plant and carbon dioxide storage site expect to begin (FutureGen Alliance)

2015 — Oil company Shell is projecting to launch Project Quest which will capture more than one million metric tons of CO2 and pump it more than two kilometers underground in a porous sandstone formation (Scientific American 2012)


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1885: The first garbage incinerator in the US is built by the Navy on Governor’s Island. In the same year, the first municipal incinerator is built in Allegheny, Pennsylvania. (Texas Window on State Govt)

1905: New York City begins using a garbage incinerator to generate electricity to light the Williamsburg Bridge. (ASTC)

1909: 102 of 180 incinerators built since 1885 are abandoned or dismantled. Many had been inadequately built or run. America’s abundant land and widely spaced population made dumping garbage cheaper and more practical. (ASTC)

1930’s: The US is running about 700 incinerators, which declines to 265 by 1966 due to emissions and other problems of the unrefined technology. (Texas Window on State Govt)

1948: Robert Moses opens the Fresh Kills dump in Staten Island. It is initially supposed to be open for three years, but operates for over 50 years. (Hughes)

1960’s: The city is burning almost a third of its trash in its 22 municipal incinerators and 2,500 incinerators in apartment buildings. (Martin)

1970’s: Energy shortages lead to government regulation and incentives that encourage the waste-to-energy industry’s growth. (Williams)

The federal government begins funding feasibility studies for local governments interested in setting up new WTE plants.

1978: Congress passes PURPA, the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act, which allowed WTE plants to charge a higher price. It required the Federal Energy Regulatory Commision to guarantee a market for electricity produced by small power plants, and so benefitted WTE projects. The electricity from WTE plants and other such “qualifying facilities” were o be equal to the utility’s avoided cost of energy and capacity. (Williams)

1980’s: The world begins realizing the toxic effect of dioxins and furans, trace waste products from incineration. Governments begin enacting legislation and regulating allowed levels, and such pollution creates a negative image for incineration that keep some environmental groups still opposed to WTE. (Psuomopoulos)

US price of electricity peaks in the early 80’s and has maintained a relatively low price around 10 cents/kWh onward. The country is endowed with abundant and inexpensive coal and natural gas supplies. (Williams)

1986: The 1986 federal Tax Reform Act simultaneously benefit and harm the development of waste-to-energy facilities. The act extends federal tax credits available for waste-to-energy facilities for ten years, but also repealed the tax-free status of waste-to-energy plants financed with industrial development bonds. (Texas Window on State Govt)

1988: The US permits 7.924 landfills. By 2005, the number is 1,654. (Williams)
The EPA estimates that more than 14,000 landfills have closed since 1978, more than 70% of those operating at that time. The landfills were full, unsafe, or the owners declined to adhere to new standards. (ASTC)

1995: EPA orders waste-to-energy facilities to meet maximum pollution control standards by 2000. This requires the facilities to significantly reduce their emissions of dioxin, mercury, lead, cadmium, hydrochloric acid and particulates. Between that time and the present, EPA estimates that these requirements reduced emissions of dioxins and furans from waste-to-energy plants by more than 99 percent; metals by more than 93 percent; and acid gases by more than 91 percent. (Texas Window on State Govt)

1997: No new incinerators are built in the U.S. after this year. High costs, identified health risks, and public opposition all contribute to their unpopularity. (GAIA)

1999: The city’s last waste incinerator is torn down. It processed at most, 48 tons of medical waste per day. Dismantling it means no incineration in the five boroughs for the first time, says Sanitation Department. (Martin)

2000: Study by the EAC determines PM emission of modern WTE plants to be less than 0.003% as compared to the 1% of municipal incinerators of the past (Themalis)

2001: NYC Government closes the Fresh Kills landfill in Staten Island. The city turns to out- of-state landfills to ship its trash away. (Hughes)

2004: US WTE facilities generate a net electricity of 13.5 x 10^9 kWh, which is greater than that produced by all renewable resources but hydroelectric and geothermal. (Psuomopuolos)

New York City completed Phase 1 of an evaluation of new and emerging solid waste management conversion technologies to determine if there should be a role for such technologies in the City’s Solid Waste Management Plan, including a review of 43 technologies, categorized by type: thermal, digestion (aerobic and anaerobic), hydrolysis, chemical processing, and mechanical processing for fiber recovery. (NYC Dept of Sanitation)

2005: there are over 430 waste-to-energy plants in Europe burning about 50 million metric tons of waste. This is more than one-and-a-half times the 33.4 million tons of materials the U.S. burned in 2005. (Texas Window on State Govt)

Implementation of EPA Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) Standards have reduced emissions of ceetain hazardous materials (including dioxins and heavy metals) by a factor of almost 100 (Moy)

2006: the SEMASS facility in MA, which runs a RDF (refuse-derived fuel) type process is among the top 10 finalists for the Waste-to-Energy Research and Technology Council. The facility is one of the most successful one of its kind in the US and recovers energy at rate among the world’s best. It also recovers metal at a 90% rate (Psuomopoulos, Williams)

EPA data shows that approximately 90% of materials disposed in U.S. incinerators and landfills are recyclable and compostable materials (GAIA)

2008: San Francisco passes a 4.4 cent/kWh carbon tax, and Montgomery County in Maryland passes its own 5 cent/kWh tax in its locality. There is no national tax. This is in contrast to the carbon tax and other incentives in the European Union, particularly Sweden. Neither does the U.S. have a national landfill tax/fee. (Williams)

According to a study conducted by the Tellus Institute, on a per ton basis, recycling saves more than seven times eCO2 than landfilling, and almost 18 times eCO2 reductions from gasification/pyrolysis facilities. (GAIA)

The study Gasification of refuse derived fuel in a fixed bed reactor for syngas production found that, “There is yet to be a process designed for steam gasification of RDF [Refuse Derived Fuel] that is energy efficient. In most gasification/pyrolysis plants, the energy required to keep the plant running is only slightly less than the amount of energy being produced. (GAIA)

2009: In Sweden, a country that is a world leader in energy recovery, 49% of household waste is converted to energy, while the US converts 12%. (Williams)

A study by the E.P.A. and North Carolina State University chooses waste-to-energy plants over landfills as the most environmentally friendly destination for urban waste that cannot be recycled. (Rosenthal)

San Francisco is on track to achieve Zero Waste by the year 2020. Already, San Francisco is reducing waste by 72 percent through waste prevention, reuse, recycling, and composting. (GAIA)

2012: The NYC Department of Sanitation issues a Request for Proposals for the private sector to build a WTE facility. This is part of Mayor Bloomber’s PlaNYC, in order to process trash that cannot be recycled. (Hughes)

There are currently 87 facilities in the U.S. burning trash to generate electricity. The combined output of these facilities amounts to approximately 2,500 megawatts, or 0.3 of total national power generation, and almost all were built at least 15 years ago. (EPA, Rosenthal)

“City’s Last Waste Incinerator Is Torn Down – New York Times.” New York Times. Web. 19 Mar. 2013.
GAIA and GreenAction. Incinerators in Disguise Case Studies of Gasification, Pyrolysis, and Plasma in Europe, Asia, and the United States (April 2006)
GAIA. Incinerators: Myths vs. Facts (Feb 2012)
Hughes, Bill. “Fiscal Woes, Long-Held Fears Spur Waste-to-Energy Debate.” City Limits News. N.p., 10 Oct. 2012. Web. 18 Mar. 2013.
Kennedy, Christopher, Stephanie Demoullin, and Eugene Mohareb. “Cities reducing their greenhouse gas emissions.” Energy Policy 49 (2012): 774–777. Web. 19 Feb. 2013.
Moy, Pearl et al. “Options for Management of Municipal Solid Waste in New York City: A Preliminary Comparison of Health Risks and Policy Implications.” Journal of Environmental Management 87.1 (2008): 73–79. Web. 19 Feb. 2013.
“Municipal Waste Combustion.” Energy Report – Window on Texas State Govt. Office of the Texas Comptroller, n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2013.
“PlaNYC 2030 – The Plan – Solid Waste.” Web. 19 Feb. 2013.
Psomopoulos, C.S., A. Bourka, and N.J. Themelis. “Waste-to-energy: A Review of the Status and Benefits in USA.” Waste Management 29.5 (2009): 1718–1724. Web. 19 Feb. 2013.
Rosenthal, Elisabeth. “Europe Finds Clean Energy in Trash, but U.S. Lags.” The New York Times 12 Apr. 2010. Web. 19 Mar. 2013.
“Rotten Truth (About Garbage): Garbage Timeline.” Rotten Truth (About Garbage): Garbage Timeline. Association of Science-Technology Centers Incorporated, 1998. Web. 18 Mar. 2013.
Themelis, Nickolas J., Young Hwan Kim, and Mark H. Brady. “Energy Recovery from New York City Municipal Solid Wastes.” Waste Management & Research 20.3 (2002): 223–233. Web. 19 Feb. 2013.

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Timeline: Improving the Ease and Convenience of Recycling

Sean Proctor

Professor MacBride

Timeline Research

March 18th, 2012


Improving the Ease and Convenience of Recycling

1881: New York City Department of Street Cleaning created. First New York City department created to control waste management. (5)

1895: Commissioner George Waring creates plan that forbids dumping waste into the Atlantic Ocean (as was then done), and mandates recycling for New York City residents. (5)

1897: New York City creates its first materials recovery center , from which people sift through the City’s trash and pull out specific items that could be recycled such as papers and metals. (13)

1904: The nations first aluminum can recycling plants open in Chicago and Cleveland. (13)

1918: Because of the lack of resources cause by World War I, ocean dumping is reinstated and government run recycling is halted. (5)

Federal government creates The Waste Reclamation Service to ease the flow of waste during the war. (13)

1920s: Landfilling gains popularity across the United States due to its ease of disposal. (13)

1930s: Due to the economic depression, recycling becomes popular because many people cannot afford new goods.  (9)

1933: New York City Department of Street Cleaning changes its name to the Department of Sanitation. (5)

1955: Life Magazine runs a piece on the upside of single use disposable items, going so far as saying they are necessities. This reflects the population’s ambivalence toward recycling. (13)

1965: Congress passes the Solid Waste Disposal Act, which recognizes the growing problem of waste but does little to combat the problem. (13)

1970: First national Earth Day is hosted, bringing recycling back into mainstream focus. (9)

1972: Oregon becomes the first state to require consumers to pay a deposit on bottles and cans. (13)

1976: Federal Law gives states and localities the responsibility for disposing of their trash and for recycling. (5)

The Federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act is passed, which requires landfills to be more closely monitored. (13)

1982: New York City implements the Returnable Container Act, commonly known as the ‘Bottle Act’. Consumers now get their deposit returned when they recycle beer and wine bottles, as well as soda cans. Act was (and is) a tremendous success, decreasing roadside litter by 70%, and eliminates up to 200,00 metric tons of greenhouse gasses each year. (2)

1986: Recycling begins in New York City as a voluntary program. (5)

1987: Media reports on ‘solid waste crisis’ after a barge carrying garbage from New York cannot empty its load in surrounding states. After a six-month journey, the barge and its contents are forced to return to New York. (13)

1988: Government allows price preferences to paper that is at least 50% recycled and 10% postconsumer content. (13)

1989: Recycling is mandated in New York City as stated in Local Law 19, which requires superintendents of buildings with eight or more units to designate storage areas for recyclables. (5)

1993: Department of Sanitation consolidates recycling program. Increased effort to collect, metal cans, foils, glass bottles, plastic jugs, bottles, newspapers, magazines, phone books, and corrugated cardboard. (5)

President Clinton orders all federal agencies to only buy paper that is made with at least 20% postconsumer content. (13)

1996: Department of Sanitation begins collecting mixed paper, bulk metal objects, different cardboards, and wax paper cartons. (6)

1997-For the first time all fifty-nine districts in New York City use curbside/containerized receptacles to recycle the same material. An aggressive advertising campaign by the City helps to accomplish this milestone. (5)

Visy Paper Mill is opened on Staten Island. It is one of the worlds most technologically advanced paper recycling mills, and it still collects approximately half of the City’s recycled paper. (5)

1998: City council passes local law to require weekly collection of recyclables in hopes to increase citywide participation. (6)

2000: The EPA reports that nationally only 5.4% of all plastics generated in the USA are being recycled. (10)

2002: January: Bloomberg elected, announces that recycling is costing the city too much. Proposes end to collection of metals, glass, and plastic in hopes of saving around fifty million dollars. (6)

June: Diversion rate for recyclables at 19% of waste stream, and the capture rate of targeted recyclables reaches 46%. (6)

July: New York City Waste Prevention Coalition challenges Bloomberg’s recycling cuts. Mayor compromises and keeps metal and paper and cardboard collection because the city was making a profit from those operations. Plans to reinstate plastic collection in 2003 and glass collection in 2004. (6)

2003: July: Department of Sanitation changed recycling collection to once every two weeks. This angers many because materials must be stored for a longer period of time. (6)

2004: April: Department of Sanitation announces weekly recycling collection all materials to be restored. (5)

June: Department of Sanitation announces that citywide diversion rate fell to 15.8% and capture rate fell to 36.6%, both down from the first year of collection. (6)

2007: Mayor Bloomberg announces the PlaNYC initiative, which will focus on various recycling strategies among other pressing environmental issues. (5)

PlaNYC announces its hopes to divert 75% of New York City’s solid waste from landfills. (7)

2009: Bottle Bill expanded to include collection of water bottles. (2)

New Yorkers use more than one billion plastic bags each year, but only one percent are recycled or reused. Nationally, this figure has a recycle/reuse rate of 9.1%. (11)

San Francisco, one of the worlds most efficient recycling cities, institutes the nation’s first mandatory composting law. (3)

San Francisco announces that all households must use three different colored garbage bins (Black for trash, blue for recyclables, and green for compost) or face fines of up to $1,000.  The City hopes to eventually send no waste to landfills by 2020 (12)

2010: PepsiCo introduces a futuristic collection machine called The Dream Machine. The machine incentivizes people to recycle through it by awarding points that can amount to redeemable prizes. (4)

2012: Bloomberg announces that all public schools and city agencies will create their own recycling initiatives.  (6)

July: Recycling plant in Brooklyn opens. The facility accepts any type of ridged plastic as opposed to only number one and two plastics, which is all the City currently collects. (6)

New York City Council announces plans to add 200 new recycle bins in public spaces over the next three years and a total of 700 recycle bins over the next decade. (6)

2013: Bottle Bill expanded to include flavored water collection, iced teas, energy drinks, sports drinks, and various juice bottles. (1)

Works Cited:

  1. “Bottle Bill Expansion.” Accessed March 17, 2013.
  2. “Bottle Bill Original.” Accessed March 17, 2013.
  3. “Cool Recycling Initiatives.” Accessed March 18, 2013.
  4. “Dream Machine.” Accessed March 18, 2013.
  5. “History of NYC Recycling.” Accessed March 18, 2013.
  6. “Optimizing Recycling in NYC.” Accessed March 17, 2013.
  7. “PlaNYC’s Solid Waste Initives.” Accessed March 17, 2013.
  8. “Processing & Marketing Recyclables in NYC – Chapter 2: Modern History of NYC Recycling – Pmrnyc04.ch2.pdf.” Accessed March 18, 2013.
  9. “Recycling History.” Accessed March 18, 2013.

10. “Recycling in a Mega City (Not Very NYC Specific).” Accessed March 17, 2013.

11. “Recycling? Fuhgeddaboudit (Article).” Accessed March 17, 2013.

12. “San Francisco to Toughen a Strict Recycling Law.” Accessed March 19, 2013.

13. “The Brief History Of Recycling.” Accessed March 19, 2013.


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Memo 2: A Timeline of Vertical Farming

600 BC – King Nebuchadnezzar of ancient Babylon constructed the Hanging Gardens of Babylon for his homesick wife, Amyitis. The Hanging Gardens encompassed an array of plants and trees, imported from Medes, overhanging the terraces within the city’s walls and up the sides of the mountain. Since the area suffered a dry climate, the gardens were watered using a chain pull system, which carried water from the Euphrates River and streamed it to each landing of the garden (Krystek).

1150 AD – Aztec Indians created chinampas, which were floating gardens of rectangular plots built on swamps. Since they were incapable of growing crops on the lake’s marshy shore, they built rafts out of reeds, stalks, and roots, topped the rafts with soil and mud from the bottom of the lake, and then drifted out to the center of the water. Crops would grow on top of the rafts as their roots grew through the rafts and down into the water. The rafts often attached together to form floating fields the size of islands (Turner).

1627 – Sir Francis Bacon first introduced the theory of hydroponic gardening and farming methods in his book Sylva Sylvarum, in which he established the idea of growing terrestrial plants without soil (Saylor).

1699 – English scientist, John Woodward, conducted water culture experiments with spearmint and found that plants would grow better in less pure water than they would in distilled water and that plants derive minerals from soil mixed into water solutions (Turner).

1909 – The earliest drawing of a vertical farm was published in Life Magazine, depicting an open-air building of vertically stacked stories of homes cultivating food for consumption (Jurkiewicz).

1915 – American geologist Gilbert Ellis Bailey coined the term “vertical farming” in his book, “Vertical Farming,” in which he introduced a method of underground farming contingent on the use of explosives. Multiplying the depth of fertile land, such explosives allow and enable farmers to farm deeper, while increasing area and securing larger crops. Bailey focused on less land rather than expanding as he observed it was more profitable to double the depth than double the area (Globacorp).

1922 – Seeking efficient techniques to house sizeable communities of people, Swiss architect Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, “Le Corbusier,” developed Immeubles-Villas, his project consisting of five-story blocks into which one hundred singular apartments are stacked on top of one another. The plan’s basic unit is the single-person apartment, each isolated from its neighbors, giving them all secluded open space imbedded with greenery (Gallagher).

1937 – In a scientific journal article, William Frederick Gericke coined the term “hydroponics,” the process of growing plants in sand, gravel, or liquid, with added nutrients but without soil combining “hydro” meaning water, and “ponos” meaning labor (Jones).

1940 – Hydroponic systems were used in the Pacific during World War II, where US troops cultivated fresh lettuce and tomatoes on barren islands (Jones).

1972 – SITE (Sculpture in the Environment) proposed the concept “Highrise of Homes,” which calls for a conventional steel tower framework accommodating dirt plots, as it supports a vertical community of private homes (SITE).

1975 – Allan Cooperman introduced the nutrient film technique in which a thin film of nutrient solution flows through plastic channels, which contain the plant roots (Jones).

1989 – Architect Kenneth Yeang envisioned mixed-use buildings that move seamlessly with green space in which plant life can be cultivated within open air, known as vegetated architecture. This approach to vertical farming is based on personal and community use rather than production and distribution matters (Mulder).

1999 – American ecologist Dr. Dickson Despomierre reinvented vertical farming, as it emerged at Columbia University, promoting the mass cultivation of plant and animal life for commercial purposes in skyscrapers (Globacorp). Vertical farms, several floors tall, will be sited in the heart of the world’s urban centers, providing sustainable production of a secure and diverse food supply, and the eventual restoration of ecosystems that have been sacrificed for horizontal farming (Despomierre).

2006 – Nuvege, the forerunner in technology for the innovative growth method of hydroponically grown vegetables, developed their proprietary lighting network, which increases the return rate of vegetable growth by balancing light emissions that also advance photosynthesis through amplified levels of carbon dioxide (Inada).

2009 – Sky Green Farms built a vertical farm consisting of over 100 nine-meter tall towers in Singapore where green vegetables such as bak choi and Chinese cabbage are grown, stacked in greenhouses, and sold at local supermarkets (Doucleff). Singapore’s vertical farm is the world’s first water-driven, tropical vegetable urban vertical farm that uses green urban solutions to maintain enhanced green sustainable production of safe, fresh and delicious vegetables, using minimum land, water and energy resources,” (SkyGreens). It uses sunlight as its energy source, and captured rainwater to drive a pulley system to rotate the plants on the grow racks, ensuring an even circulation of sunlight for all the plants (Despomierre).

2011 – Dutch agricultural company, PlantLab uses red and blue LEDs instead of sunlight in their vertical farms and grow plants in completely controlled environments. By giving the plants only blue and red light, PlantLab can avoid heating its plants up needlessly, leaving more energy for growth (Hodson).

2012 – Farmed Here, a sustainable indoor vertical farming facility opened in a 90,000 square foot post-industrial building in Bedford Park, IL. Fresh, healthy, local greens such as arugula, basil, and sweet basil vinaigrette are produced here, away from the bugs, diseases, and weather that impact most produce today (Despomierre).

2012 – Local Garden, North America’s first ever VertiCrop farm, was constructed in Vancouver, Canada, shifting sustainable farming and food production practices. VertiCrop, a new technology for growing healthy, natural vegetables in a controlled environment maximizes space usage and eliminates need for pesticides. The garden is capable of growing and harvesting up to 3,500 pounds of a variety of fresh greens every week, such as kales, spinach, arugula, endive, lettuce, bak choi, escarole, basil, parsley, chards, etc. (Despomierre).

Works Cited

Despomierre, Dickson. “Long Road from Farm to Fork Worsens Food Outbreaks.” The Vertical Farm Project. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2013.

Doucleff, Michaeleen. “Sky-High Vegetables: Vertical Farming Sprouts In Singapore.” NPR. NPR, 9 Nov. 2012. Web. 16 Mar. 2013.

Gallagher, Dominic. “Le Corbusier.” The Open University. N.p., 26 Nov. 2001. Web. 17 Mar. 2013.

“GlobaCorp.” Vertical Farming. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2013

Hodson, Hal. “Shoots in the Dark: Farming without Sunlight.” The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, 26 Sept. 2011. Web. 16 Mar. 2013.

“The Highrise of Homes.” SITE. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2013.

Inada, Shinji. “About Nuvege.” Nuvege. Green Green Earth Inc, 2011. Web. 17 Mar. 2013.

Jones, J. Benton, Dr. “Hydroponic Growing.” Growing Tomatoes. Grow Tomatoes, 2013. Web. 16 Mar. 2013.

Krystek, Lee. “The Seven Wonders – Hanging Gardens of Babylon.” The Seven Wonders – Hanging Gardens of Babylon. N.p., 1998. Web. 18 Mar. 2013.

Mulder, Dave. “Do We Need to Build Vertical Farming Skyscrapers?” Eating Real Food. N.p., 10 Feb. 2011. Web. 17 Mar. 2013.

Saylor, Donn, and John Allen. “What Is Hydroponic Farming?” WiseGeek. Conjecture, n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2013.

“Sky Green – Home.” Sky Green – Home. Sky Greens, n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2013

Turner, Bambi. “How Hydroponics Works.” HowStuffWorks. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2013.

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