April 22, 2011
Dear New Yorker,
Happy Earth Day! As we celebrate our beautiful planet today, we wanted to take a moment to share with you some of the important actions that we have recently taken to help make New York a greener city and home.
City Council Passes Green Roof Legislation
This past month, the City Council passed a package of green roof bills. These bills are part of the Council's ongoing work with the Green Code Task Force and, when signed into law by the Mayor, will alter the Building Code to allow:
Builders to use roofing materials that are more reflective, absorbing less heat in the summer, as well as more emissive – emitting more heat when the air is cooler (Intro. No. 347-A);
Solar thermal and solar electric (photovoltaic) collectors or panels and their supporting equipment to be excluded completely from height limitations, making it less burdensome to install these systems on rooftops (Intro. No. 341-A); and
Combined heat and power systems to be added to the list of allowable rooftop structures, saving us precious fuel and energy (Intro. 358-A).
We'd like to thank the Green Code Task Force for their expertise and support in helping us find ways to green the laws and regulations that govern construction in New York City.
We'd also like to thank all of our colleagues, especially Council Members Erik Martin Dilan, Dan Garodnick and Diana Reyna, for their leadership and support in shepherding these bills through the Council.
For more information on these green roof bills, click here.
Yesterday, Mayor Bloomberg released PlaNYC 2.0, a blueprint that will take our city's sustainability efforts to the next level.
Having partnered with the Bloomberg Administration to pass sweeping legislation to green our city's building code and to create the Office of Environmental remediation, the Council looks forward to continuing to collaborate on many of the initiatives in the Mayor's plan. We're especially proud that this plan for the first time incorporates food system sustainability – an issue that has long been a priority for the City Council. In fact, many of the food proposals outlined in PlaNYC 2.0 work in tandem with proposals from our FoodWorks plan for improving NYC's food system.
Finally, we're proud to say that as a result of discussions relating to the updated PlaNYC, the Council was able to negotiate a significant reversal to proposed budget changes relating to the city's Solid Waste Management Plan (SWMP). At its core, the SWMP had a goal of relieving communities that were unfairly overburdened in handling the city's waste and achieving true borough equity in waste management. The Council remains committed to this goal, which is why we had serious concerns about the Administration's proposal to delay construction of four marine transfer stations by pushing funding for the projects as far back as Fiscal Year 2019.
As a result of our efforts, funding will not be delayed and the projects will move forward as planned. This is a big win for the environment, for New York's neighborhoods and for the future of our city.
City Council Promotes Locally-Grown Food & Reduced Food Packaging
You may recall, in February the Council's Contracts Committee held a hearing on a package of bills that would encourage city agencies to purchase food produced in New York State (Intro. 452) and urge vendors to cut down on packaging (Intro. 461).
To read more about this hearing, please click on the link below:
As part of our FoodWorks plan, the City Council is very proud to launch the first government-based community supported agriculture (CSA) program in New York City!
CSAs are a great, convenient way to directly connect to farmers and take home locally grown fruits and vegetables. We look forward to seeing our newly-selected farmer, Zaid, every week this summer with his fresh, organic produce from Norwich Meadow Farm and we hope the Council's CSA encourages other employers to start their own programs.
We will continue to look at these and other ways to increase the amount of locally-grown food purchased by the city.
City Council & Mayor Bloomberg Break Ground on First Brownfield Site
This past week, the City Council and Mayor Bloomberg broke ground for a new development in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, built on a brownfield site remediated by the City's brownfield incentive grant program.
In 2009, the City Council passed a bill, authored by Environmental Protection Chair Jim Gennaro, that created a comprehensive program for the remediation and reuse of brownfields: abandoned or underused industrial and commercial sites that are viable for re-use.
Thanks to this program, unused space in Williamsburg will now be turned into a wonderful development with retail shops and a place where New Yorkers can call home.
It's exactly this kind of transformation that we envisioned for these brownfields when we passed our legislation, and we'd like to thank the Mayor and his Administration for helping us put this innovative program into action.
City Council & GrowNYC Announce Composting Expansion
On March 4th, we joined GrowNYC to kick off a new pilot program that expanded household composting to six additional greenmarket locations around the city, for a total of 10 drop-off points citywide.
Sustainable waste management is a goal outlined in the Council's FoodWorks plan, and we're thrilled this expanded pilot program is transforming more of our food waste into fertile soil.
We'd like to thank GrowNYC and its community partners for all of their hard work putting this expansion program together.
To read more about these effort, click here. For a complete list of locations where you can drop off your food scraps, log on to http://www.grownyc.org/compost/locations.
Addressing PCBs in NYC Public Schools
Nothing is more important to parents and guardians than knowing that their children are being educated in a safe and secure environment.
Earlier this month, the City Council held a hearing on PCBs in public schools. These man-made chemicals are found in old light fixtures in many of our city's schools, are considered probable carcinogens by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and are suspected of causing a number of critical health problems.
During our hearing, many parents, advocates, unions, and experts expressed their concerns that students, teachers, and other school workers were possibly being exposed to these PCBs through direct contact or inhalation.
We also heard from the Administration about its efforts to replace light fixtures containing PCBs as part of a comprehensive plan to increase energy efficiency and environmental quality in 772 public schools over the next 10 years.
While we were happy to hear that the City's plan will remove all PCB-containing lights from the city's schools and reduce major health risks associated with air pollution from dirty oil-burning boilers, we questioned the plan's timeframe, believing it to be too long.
Based on the testimony we received at our hearing and ongoing discussions with all involved parties, we have called for a five-year completion of this plan – a position also taken by the EPA. Although there are a number of important benefits to this five-year schedule, the most important, by far, is the health and safety of our city's children.
Help Give Back to the Planet!
Interested in volunteering on Earth Day? Click on the links below:
Earth Day NYC
Earth Day New York volunteers will help with setting up for the event, loading materials and equipment in and out, running our informational booths.
NYC Department of Parks and Recreation
Earth Day celebration at Rockaway Beach. Volunteers are needed to help with a special earth day celebration at Rockaway Beach. Assist children and their families with crafts, games and face painting.
Want to pitch in and help make New York a greener city? Log on to http://www.nyc.gov/html/coolroofs/html/home/home.shtml and http://www.ioby.org.
We're continuing to make great progress implementing our FoodWorks plan and creating a more sustainable future for our city. We still have a lot more work to do, though, and we promise to keep you updated on our progress and to alert you to any actions you can take going forward.
In the meantime, if you have any questions about how you can become involved in these efforts, please contact Danielle Porcaro in our Community Outreach Division at (212) 788-7300 or DPorcaro@council.nyc.gov.
Thanks and have a great Earth Day and a wonderful weekend!!!
Christine C. Quinn
James F. Gennaro
Chair, Environmental Protection Committee
Chair, Sanitation & Solid Waste Management Committee