In the 4th edition of the Global Green Economy Index, an in-depth look at how 60 countries and 70 cities are doing in developing more environmentally friendly economies, New York ranked 7th, making it into to the top 10 Green Cities of the world.
New York City is the greenest large city in the U.S.A. Its greenhouse gas emissions are low for a city its size with the population relying heavily on its extensive public transport system. Under stewardship of Mayor de Blasio, New York incorporated over 1400 benchmarked and strategised initiatives writing many into law and thus ensuring the 2050 target of an 80% reduction in New York’s carbon footprint is realised.
New York boasts the cleanest air in 50 years, is a leader in green technology, green building regualtions and 14% of the city area is covered in parks. An impressive 950,000 trees and six million square feet of reflective rooftop has been added to the urban landscape in recent years.
One of the most impressive urban re-development projects is the High Line.
In 1934, as part of the West Side Improvement Project, and set 30feet above street level, the High Line rail track ran goods trains from 34th Street to St John’s Park Terminal in Manhattan’s largest industrial district for over 46 years.
By the 1980’s however after the rapid expansion the interstate trucking industry, the last train ran – pulling three carloads of frozen turkeys.
Following court battles between property owners wanting demolition of the High Line and Peter Obletz a Chelsea resident, activist, and railroad enthusiast,demolition lobbying was stone walled in court.
In 1999 the organisation Friends of the High Line was founded,to advocate for the High Line’s preservation and reuse as a public open space.
By November 2005, after extensive design and development consultation, the City accepted ownership of the High Line which was donated by CSX Transportation, Inc and by 2009, Section 1 (Gansevoort Street to West 20th Street) opened to the public. Taking just 5 years to complete,the third and northernmost section of the park, the “High Line at the Rail Yards”, opened to the public.
Some sustainability features include:
Converting each section of the High Line from an out-of-use railroad trestle to a public landscape entailed not only years of planning, community input, and work by some of the city’s most inventive designers and more than two years of construction per section.
Self-seeded landscapes that grew on the out-of-use elevated rail tracks during the 25 years after trains stopped running. The species of perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees were chosen for their hardiness, sustainability, and textural and color variation, with a focus on native species. Many of the species that originally grew on the High Line’s rail bed are incorporated into the park’s landscape.
A green roof system is designed to allow the plants to retain as much water as possible. In addition, there is an irrigation system installed with options for both automatic and manual watering. Porous pathways contain open joints, so water can drain between planks and water adjacent planting beds, cutting down on the amount of storm-water that runs off the site into the sewer system.
On-site composting facilities turns garden waste into compost without the need to add commercial fertilizer.
Environmentally sound purchasing through the use of Green Seal-certified cleaning solutions and post-consumer paper products for recurring maintenance needs.
Other Cities making the Index are:
7. New York