Next Thursday, the New York City Zoning Resolution turns 50 years old. As zoning nerds the world over take a minute to acknowledge this milestone, we must not forget to turn our attention to the next 50 years and start considering specific actions that will encourage the progress of this great city and preserve its competitive advantage. It is time to think big…literally.
While planning (and zoning, for that matter) doesn’t happen in a vacuum, as we look at the next 50 years, architects of the City’s planning and zoning policies should take three words into consideration – no, not location location location. Urban planning technocrats, elected officials, neighborhood groups, and all other stakeholders should be guided by the following three words: Continue reading
If we can agree that the goal is to get people to use less energy, less water, less oil; to get people to invest in greener buildings, greener technologies, greener transportation; then the question is – how do we do it? How do we get to a state where people and companies are making more environmentally conscious choices? Ultimately, we must answer the question – What changes behavior?
Last month, I spent two weeks in Israel. With its geographic location coupled with the space it inhabits politically, Israel has severe environmental and resource challenges – much more so than the United States. With water scarce and the cost expensive, Israel has had to address these (and many other environmental issues) for decades.
When it comes to water, Israel gives a quota for “normal usage” to its residents. Residents are charged a standard rate for the first 30 cubic meters (for a family of 4 every 2 months). Above that limit, residents are charged a much higher rate, in addition to an over-usage penalty.
When it comes to gas, your eyes may be rolling lately at the price of gas in the US, but Israelis can pay as much as three times the price we do. As a result, their cars are much smaller (SUV’s are a rarity) and public transit is robust and well-used.
As for energy usage, Israel has embraced solar technologies for more than 30 years. Just take a look at the rooftops in Tel Aviv. Nearly every one has a solar panel connected to the building’s water heater.
These are just a few examples of how Israel is addressing some of its sustainability challenges. Now some might say that Israel, because of its geography and lack of resources, was forced to encourage its citizens to act more sustainably. And that’s exactly the point. Sometimes we need a push in the right direction in order to achieve meaningful results. Continue reading
Yesterday, Mayor Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn formally announced the release of the New York City Comprehensive Waterfront Plan, Vision 2020. The new plan is very ambitious in its scope, envisioning the waterfront as an integral part of the city, or the “Sixth Borough,” as Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden describes it.
As we discussed in October, New York City’s Vision 2020 plan is indeed comprehensive. The 192-page plan offers a wide range of strategies the City could employ to take better advantage of its waterfront, for both recreational and economic purposes. It proposes new waterfront open spaces, as well as improvements to the waterways themselves and related infrastructure, such as dredging to accommodate more container ships and upgrades to the city’s sewer system. In addition, the plan aims to address environmental concerns by making recommendations aimed at protecting wetlands, improving water quality, and addressing sea level rise and other climate change concerns.
Covering the entire report in one post would be ambitious, so ZONE instead plans to do a series of updates on the topic. In the next few weeks, we’ll be looking at several of these issues in depth and exploring their potential effect on local land use and other issues relevant to you, our readers.
Until then, you can read more about the plan, or download a copy of the entire 192 page document, here.
Recently, Howard Peskoe (of Counsel here at Herrick, Feinstein) and I were invited to speak to the New York chapter of the International Facilities Managers Association on the City’s Greener, Greater Buildings Plan and its impact on IFMA’s members.
IFMA asked us to speak because a major component of the GGBP (the benchmarking law) is about to become effective on May 1, 2011.
We have addressed the GGBP in ZONE previously, but now seems the perfect time to revisit its four laws.
Earlier this year, I had the privilege if sitting on a panel which analyzed a fascinating and innovative proposed urban agriculture development project in the Bronx. The event was very interesting and demonstrated the many benefits of urban agriculture, as well as the growing level of support for the concept.
The panel – put together by the Sustainability Practice Network – looked at one of the responses to an EDC RFP asking for development ideas for a vacant block in the Bathgate section of the Bronx. Continue reading
Earlier today, the Municipal Arts Society, as part of their Summit for New York City, held a conference on Sustainable Housing.
The panelists each had a few minutes to share their experiences. Continue reading
The Department of City Planning is currently in the process of updating the City’s Comprehensive Waterfront Plan, which was originally published in 1992. Local law requires that this update, which City Planning has entitled “Vision 2020,” be completed by the end of the year. The Waterfront Plan is not to be confused with City Planning’s update to its waterfront zoning, which occurred last year and focused primarily on the design of the open spaces required when a private waterfront property is developed. Continue reading
Earlier this summer, we at Herrick Feinstein hosted a seminar – Zoning, Sustainability, & City Policy. The seminar had a panel of green building and New York City policy experts; focus was on the Green Codes Task Force recommendations, the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan, and the current trends in New York City sustainability policy.
I interviewed each of the three panelists and a very lively and informative seminar unfolded. Below are three clips from the evening. If you would like to view the seminar in its entirety, it can be found here.