In 2019, the NYC city council passed its Climate Mobilization Act via a nearly unanimous 45-2 vote. Yet we haven’t yet seen tangible results from the legislation, which aims to significantly improve air quality while reducing carbon emissions. Interestingly, the primary culprit of NYC’s carbon emissions isn’t its dense traffic, but buildings, which are reportedly responsible for nearly 70% of greenhouse gas emissions city-wide.
The Climate Mobilization Act represents a notable effort towards improving global sustainability, an issue that becomes increasingly relevant as we continue to experience the negative effects of climate change. But change can also happen on an individual level, and it’s more important than ever to cultivate a more sustainable lifestyle, in NYC and beyond.
Fortunately, incorporating more environmental consciousness into your life isn’t a difficult endeavor. For instance, you can reduce your individual carbon footprint via incorporating sensible air quality and circulation practices at home, and supporting sustainable design in every aspect of your life. Keep in mind that your individual efforts can help fuel widespread change in your community, as sustainability is more than simply a passing fad.
Supporting Sustainable Design
The Climate Mobilization Act includes an ambitious plan to reduce carbon emissions from city buildings by 40% within the next decade. In order to achieve this, city planners and residents alike must advocate for sustainable design on a large scale. At its core, sustainable design is ethical and eco-friendly and aims to minimize a building’s negative environmental impact.
Within NYC’s impressive skyline, there are already a number of buildings that have embraced sustainable design. In fact, Sixth Avenue’s Bank of America Tower is considered one of the world’s most sustainable buildings, as well as a monumental achievement in green architecture.
At Bank of America Tower, a rainwater reservoir collects and distributes rainwater throughout the building, used in its AC system, toilets, and for plant irrigation. Further, the first skyscraper to be awarded platinum LEED certification also makes most of its own electricity, thanks to a 5.1-megawatt power plant on its podium level.
If a massive skyscraper (the eighth tallest in the city as of 2020) like Bank of America Tower can function so well under a sustainable design model, it should be a simple endeavor on a small scale. Individuals can support sustainable design by pushing for eco-friendly upgrades at your building’s next tenant organization meeting, or advocate for improved sustainability at your workplace.
Energy Efficiency: Tips for Individuals
Summers in NYC are notoriously sweltering, and millions of air conditioners are humming across the city during the hottest months of the year. Yet they’re also energy guzzlers — at the household level, air conditioning units account for about 50% of total energy usage. To help offset those emissions, make sure to change your AC unit’s filter often, and run ceiling fans in tandem with your unit to better circulate cool air.
But your potential sustainable living efforts span well beyond just your AC unit. Developing an awareness of how you use energy in your daily life, and where you can improve your overall energy efficiency, is the first step towards a more sustainable lifestyle. At home or the office, you can easily save energy, and it can even be done without shelling out the cash needed to install a solar energy system. Start by swapping out traditional light bulbs for LED versions, harnessing natural light whenever possible, and turning off small appliances when not in use.
Do Individual Efforts Impact Climate Change?
When you consider the rapid growth of climate change in recent years, the idea that turning off your appliances and using ceiling fans can make a difference may seem rather silly. While it is indeed true that large-scale climate change campaigns must happen at the corporate and/or governmental level, the impact of individual sustainability efforts shouldn’t be overlooked. Even simply discussing climate change and sustainability can help fuel sustainability efforts.
In fact, scientists claim that your individual efforts have the potential to inspire others, including co-workers, friends, and family. UCLA’s Katharine Davis Reich, M.A. talked to Bustle about the significance of individual climate activism: “Talk about what you are doing to reduce your carbon footprint, and why, and you’ll help to create a culture of change.”
It is that culture of change that can help better elevate the ideas of eco-conscious living and sustainable design into the mainstream. And it starts with you.
The good news is that, no matter your global location, you don’t have to sacrifice comfort when cultivating a more sustainable lifestyle. Become more mindful of the ways in which you can save energy, at home, at work, and on the go, and don’t hesitate to make necessary changes to your daily routine. You can also lend your support to organizations and campaigns looking to create a more sustainable and healthy NYC, such as city council members and business owners who are working to uphold the mission of the Climate Mobilization Act.
Sam Bowman writes about people, tech, wellness and how they merge. He enjoys getting to utilize the internet for community without actually having to leave his house. In his spare time he likes running, reading, and combining the two in a run to his local bookstore.