The “PlaNYC” reading references a 17-part plan for energy, to both improve energy planning and increase energy efficiency. Many of the points rely on encouraging various parties to transition to use greener energy and greener practices. However, in “The Long Slow Rise….” it is discussed that renewables are “not taking off any faster than the other new fuels once did, and there is no technical or financial reason to believe they will rise any quicker….” (The other new fuels refer to coal, oil, and natural gas).

“The Long Slow Rise of Solar and Wind” says:

“Of course, it is always possible that a disruptive technology or a revolutionary policy could speed up change. But energy transitions take a long time.”

Do you think that policy goals set by organizations like PlaNYC discuss revolutionary policies and disruptive technology that will speed up the transition to greener energy use, or will the energy transition to using greener energy take a long time?

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1 Response to

  1. Amanda Lederman says:

    Although PlaNYC’s outline, which is organized into 17 different initiatives, is detailed and well thought out, after reading through Smil’s article “The Long Slow Rise of Solar and Wind” I felt more skeptical; it seems that the reality is that these environmental and “green” goals are far-reaching and will likely not be fully achieved, at least in the next couple of years. While these initiatives address the many different aspects necessary to become a “greener and greater” city, they also give rise to many fundamental obstacles such as lack of coordination, organization and regulation among the different parties involved; furthermore, PlaNYC highlights the fact that a great deal of funding and private investments are also necessary in order for all of these plans to work out.

    Another problem with the policy goals set by PlaNYC is that they are somewhat unrealistic. For example, in “Initiative 4” it says that “we will aim to achieve 90% energy code compliance by 2017 through stringent enforcement and by providing energy code trading for designers.” Even though the initiative does outline some methods of achieving this goal, such as the introduction of a “Green Building Report Card,” it is hard to believe that in three short years we will achieve a 90% rate of code compliance; accordingly, I believe it would be more practical to set a number of smaller, more attainable goals rather than inflating these numbers to make ourselves feel and sound better than we actually are.

    In terms of the “disruptive technology or a revolutionary policy [that] could speed up change,” as noted in Smil’s article, I did find some of the initiatives were innovative and forward-thinking. “Initiative 9” discusses a fundamental problem within the city, which is the lack of educational programs related to energy efficiency engineering. By partnering with universities in the area to develop a curriculum and major regarding energy efficiency engineering and other related sciences, we will be able to train the next generations of New Yorkers to become experts in the field. This opportunity could lead to better research programs and studies related to the causes, effects and possible solutions to environmental issues in New York City. Although initiatives like this one require a great deal of funding and planning as well, I think that with enough support some of these goals can be more readily achieved.

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