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Energy Consumption Trends in New York City

By Guest Blogger Jeremie Brenton

You may think that modern technologies created energy efficient solutions for houses and buildings. It does not appear to be the case in modern world. People buy and use a lot of gadgets at home and at work, thus increasing the levels of energy use. It is not surprising that cities like New York have to address this problem, as power stations cannot handle the load levels of energy consumption.

NYC is one of the greatest energy consumers in the US. All the major city’s skyscrapers, malls and apartment blocks have incredible levels of energy use. Heating and cooling systems also produce about 80% of city’s greenhouse gas emissions. The city plans to cut this number in half by 2030. Energy consumption is one of the crucial factors of climate change. Five months ago hurricane Sandy highlighted inefficiency of city’s energy policy. Both authorities and residents were completely unprepared for the after effects of this natural disaster.

Old buildings vs. new ones

All the skyscrapers and big buildings in NYC are required to present their energy use report on the yearly basis. This measure was first introduced in 2010. Reports were able to draw a picture for better understanding of consumption trends. Surprisingly older buildings cause less damage to the environment than the new ones due to less ventilation and thicker walls that prevent energy loss.

The city is trying to identify buildings with highest levels of energy consumption in order to implement energy saving solutions. Simple motion sensor technologies and LED lights could lower the energy use by 30 percent. Property owners just need to upgrade their systems and negotiate the lease agreements with tenants.

Irresponsible tenants?

Equitable Building, 120 Wall Street and 570 Seventh Avenue have the highest energy efficiency scores in the city. These buildings are rather exceptions among the large number of energy inefficient properties.

Building owners normally tend to disregard the energy use requirements. That’s why a lot of tenants simply consume electricity without any limits. Some office workers leave the lights or ACs on at night when no one needs them. This irresponsible behavior is extremely inefficient and wasteful. At the same time, no one can tell tenants what to do and how to run their businesses. If they need to work late at night, they will do it no matter what.

The new energy plan

If the municipality and local authorities want to reduce energy consumption, they need to get a clear understanding of people’s needs. First of all, it is important to learn more about specific areas that consume electricity the most. Why do they consume this amount of electricity? Are there any ‘greener’ alternatives? Some reports show there are.

Decentralized energy plan can solve certain problems as well. It would specifically prevent massive power blackouts during any natural disaster. Energy audits and efficiency requirements will most likely have a significant impact on energy policy of the city. At the same time, the government needs to invest more time into developing alternative energy sources.

The city currently gets most of its electric power from natural gas or coal power plants: most of it has to be replaced with renewable or at least, less polluting sources. Authorities should also support various ‘green’ energy start-ups and entrepreneurs and any possible ways of energy conservation. This is not an easy task but it has to be done for a better future of NYC – and it can also be inspiring for other densely populated urban areas of the world.

About the Author

This is a guest post by freelance writer and guest poster Jeremie Brenton. Jeremie often covers sustainability and urban development topics and currently writes for NY Energy Rates. Check out their homepage for information on energy companies in New York.

About Kevin

Kevin is both an environmentalist and a tech guy and has been writing, editing and publishing this blog since 2007. He answers questions related to how you can use tech to go greener.

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