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Manhattan: Is it the Greenest Town on Earth?

By
Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Prestige Properties

Manhattan, New York City: Is Manhattan the Greenest Town on Earth?
 
Earth Week 2010 is officially over, but many of us are still in the environmental consciousness swing-of-things. And with the green movement more popular than ever, you may consider Manhattan an environmentalist’s nightmare. After all, it’s a classic concrete jungle, super crowded, with seemingly epic traffic jams, right?
 
As you know, the "green movement" is a catch-all term for people or organizations that promote protecting the environment. Ironically, compared to many suburbs throughout America, New York City is a model of environmental leadership, and it may actually be one of the greenest cities on earth!
 
Fact is, how many Manhattanites do you know that drive to work and add to already worrisome air pollution levels?  Also many residents are unlikely to live in an apartment that greatly exceeds a few hundred square feet per person. Manhattan has a lot of notoriously energy inefficient buildings, but there’s a lot of momentum to change that.
 
Moreover, environmentalists typically focus on population density, and by that measure, with 1.6 million people, Manhattan definitely makes up for its shortcomings. So on a per-capita basis, it may be one the U.S.’s most energy efficient places to live.
 
With that in mind, if you’re a Manhattan resident or prospective real estate buyer, as we head into the final days of Earth Week, below is a summary of Tenant Tips from a local New York City environmentally conscious organization named GreenHomeNYC.org.

They’re a terrific volunteer group whose goal is to increase New Yorkers City's sustainable living, and responsible use of real estate building methods & materials. Enjoy!
 
1. Understand your energy usage: Dig out old utility bills & familiarize yourself with how much energy you use each month. Understand which appliances use the most energy. Replace those with Energy Star-labeled models (www.energystar.gov). Turn off the one’s you don’t use when you’re not at home or not using it;  
 
2. Use non-toxic materials and products: If it’s poisonous, carcinogenic, triggers asthma, or wreaks havoc on your nervous system, you probably don’t want it in your building, like most of the products we use to build and maintain our buildings - including paints, cleaners, insulation, cabinetry, and carpets. Keeping out toxins is relatively easy Our website has more info and tips on how to do it;
 
3. Use high quality, energy efficiency compact fluorescent lighting and Energy Star appliances: Just because it saves energy doesn’t mean fluorescent lighting looks good. Know what to look for when shopping for fluorescent lighting. See the following article: Understanding Lighting: The Good, The Bad, and the Environmental.
 
4. Use materials and products with post-consumer recycled content: Search for products that state the percentage of post-consumer recycled content. Paper is a biggie. So are plastic and paper packaging (essentially, anything you can recycle should be made from recycled materials to keep the cycle going). And if you’re buying wood, tiles, countertops, carpet, or insulation there are options recycled and resource minimizing options for these as well.
 
5. Increase your comfort and reduce your energy consumption by controlling the indoor temperature: If you have a radiator, and control the heat in your apartment by getting up and adjusting the valves all winter long, or even worse, opening the windows, then having just the right temperature is probably a rare event. The same goes for cooling with AC — turning it off and on is a pretty crude way to control temperature. Erratic temperature is not only uncomfortable, but it wastes lots of energy, especially if the radiator’s kicking out heat or the AC’s keeping things nice and cool when nobody’s home. Install low cost, easy to use, thermostats and automatic radiator controls, simultaneously saving energy and increasing comfort.
 
6. Switch to Green Power: Two utility companies now offer “green power,” — electricity made from in-state wind and small, low impact hydro (no dams) — for utility customers in New York City. That means that city residents now have a low-cost, no-hassle renewable energy option. It costs a few bucks more a month, but that money helps grow the local renewable energy industry. The two companies are 1st Rochdale Cooperative (http://www.1strochdalenyc.net/cleanerElectricity.html), and Consolodated Edison Solutions (a subsidiary of the namesake parent: http://www.conedsolutions.com/Residential/GreenPowerMain.htm.Read more about green power options for New York City.
 
7. Reuse and Recycle: Every building in New York City is required by law to recycle. Check with your super or building management to find out how your building recycles. Get information on what and how to recycle, along with composting and waste prevention tips, at www.nyc.gov/recycle.
 
8. Support Community Gardens: New York needs more greenspace and vegetation. It filters the air and the noise, reduces the summer heat, and cleans the water.