Throughout the following pages, we hope to answer many questions people have concerning greener housing in NYC.

Our main goal was to analyze the problems associated with global warming, how it affects housing in NYC, and suggest possible solutions to reduce greenhouse gases. More specifically, in terms of public and private housing, there are initiatives that have been/can be taken  in order to mitigate carbon emissions and adapt to a changing environment. A few other inquiries that we considered included cost efficiency vs. energy efficiency and practical ideas that can facilitate a greener global community.

Provided are some links to help answer those questions and take you where you need to go on our site.

Green Building

Building sustainable housing (and restoring existing buildings to make them more sustainable) necessitates a knowledge of all of the components that go into green building. A building’s Life Cycle Assessment needs to be kept in mind when constructing or restoring a structure, which means cultivating an awareness of the energy consumed and carbon emitted in building and maintaining any kind of infrastructure. Essential components of green building include: energy efficiency and renewable energy, water efficiency, environmentally preferable building materials and specifications, waste reduction, toxics reduction, indoor air quality, and smart growth and sustainable development. To learn more about these components of green building and the history of green building in New York City, click the above link.

Incentives for Greener Housing

Though in an ideal world, knowledge of the current environmental situation might be enough to encourage private owners and government officials to work toward the goal of widespread sustainable housing, politics and economics, in reality, become inseparable from environmental concerns. Incentives must be offered in order to make sustainable housing an achievable goal. If you click on the above link, you can take a look at the different kind of incentives that are offered from the top down (for public housing) and the bottom up (for private housing) in order to make energy efficiency and cost efficiency work together cooperatively. You will also find case studies showing how cost efficiency and energy efficiency can be cooperative entities rather than opposing forces.

Bloomberg’s Plan/Opposition

A few years ago, Mayor Bloomberg devised a proposal called PLANYC 2030. Within his plan, Bloomberg wished to incorporate many housing initiatives in terms of improving upon existing infrastructure as well as implementing greener elements into new development. In New York City, much progress has already been made since 2008, yet change also inevitably comes with obstacles and struggles. The cost of bringing about green building is a concern to those who are expected to follow through with the Mayor’s objectives; the link provided above will discuss the specific goals Bloomberg has set for housing in NYC, and the difficulties that building owners may have regarding paying the costs of building green.

Practical Ideas

There are many practical ways in which both the private and public sectors can attempt to mitigate carbon emissions. The current federal government is pushing for simple ways to refurbish residential buildings and municipal housing. For example, incorporating blue and white roofs, as well as planting gardens on rooftops can significantly reduce heat islands and lower costs of energy. The respective link showcases these aforementioned ideas as well as model cities in the United States and abroad that have already implemented greener housing, which can spark improvement closer to home.

Proximity to Public Transportation

One way in which cities such as New York can reduce their carbon emissions, is by having housing closer to public transportation.  The closer people live to public transportation, the less they will have to rely on using cars.  The replacement of cars with such things as buses and subways, helps to decrease the amount of carbon that is released into the air.  The question of whether housing should be built near public transportation, or public transportation built near housing, is a question which city planners must attempt to answer. However, the positive effects of such an arrangement on global warming are evident.  If you click on the link you will be able to read more about the benefits of having public transportation near housing, the current state of public transportation located near housing within the 5 boroughs, and a case study which examines some of the outcomes of a city plan which made “proximity” a priority.


To begin, we think it is important to state that according to the U.S. Green Building Council,

In the United States alone, buildings account for:
•    72% of electricity consumption,
•    39% of energy use,
•    38% of all carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions,
•    40% of raw materials use,
•    30% of waste output (136 million tons annually), and
•    14% of potable water consumption.

As shown in the above graph, provided by PLANYC, buildings account for about 45% of New York City’s total energy consumption.

Clearly, looking at Green Housing is very important, especially if we want to mitigate and adapt to global warming.

Selected information about Green Building from the U.S. Green Building Council can be found below.  It touches upon statistical information concerning the economics of green building and the importance green building plays in the environment:

Market Impact

The green market was 2% of non-residential construction starts in 2005; 10-12% in 2008; and will grow to 20-25% by 2013.

Comprises 13.4% of the $13.2 trillion U.S. GDP.  This includes all commercial, residential, industrial and infrastructure construction.  New commercial and residential building construction constitutes 6.1% of the GDP.

Green building will support 7.9 million U.S. jobs and pump $554 million into the American economy over the next four years (2009-2013).


Buildings represent 38.9% of U.S. primary energy use (includes fuel input for production).

Buildings are one of the heaviest consumers of natural resources and account for a significant portion of the greenhouse gas emissions that affect climate change.  In the U.S., buildings account for 38% of all CO2 emissions.

Buildings represent 72% of U.S electricity consumption.


Buildings use 13.6% of all potable water, or 15 trillion gallons per year.


Buildings use 40% of raw materials globally (3 billion tons annually).

The EPA estimates that 170 Million tons of building-related construction and demolition (C&D) debris was generated in the U.S. in 2003, with 61% coming from nonresidential and 39% from residential sources.

The EPA estimates that 209.7 million tons of municipal solid waste was generated in the U.S. in a single year.

Sectors Expected to Have Green Building Growth:








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