Green Tips: Going Green With Your Building

Green Tips | July 25, 2018

Make your building a green zone!

Our buildings have a monstrous carbon footprint, accounting for almost 40% of national carbon emissions. Here in New York State, buildings are responsible for about 60% of total energy consumption and in New York City, “fossil fuels burned in buildings for heat and hot water are the number one source of GHG emissions, accounting for 42% of the citywide total.” This massive energy expenditure not only accelerates global warming, but also contributes to local air pollution. To forge a more sustainable path forward and meet both our city our state’s ambitious climate goals, including NYC Mayor de Blasio’s goal of reducing GHG emissions by at least 80% by 2050, we need to drastically transform the way we construct and utilize our buildings.

With these tips, you can help further that transformation starting in your home and workplace.

Take advantage of public programs for green-living. All New Yorkers should recycle at home. You can also participate in recycling events in your community through New York Recycles! Encourage your employers to get involved as well. City residents can enroll their homes and businesses in the Organics Collection Program to receive composting bins and starting kits. Check out our previous Green Tip for Composting Tips.  For those living in an apartment building with 10+ units or working in a commercial building, you can enroll your building in refashion NYC, a city-sponsored program in partnership with Housing Works, that makes it easy for you and your neighbors to donate clothing.

Establish sharing spaces with your neighbors. Take inspiration from Sacramento’s Library of Things and create your own goods-loaning space. To do so, find an open space in your residential building, such as a lobby or basement, and designate a goods-holding area. Closets, bookcases, and shelving systems may be helpful. You can use these spaces to store shared cooking and cleaning supplies, home repair tools, crafting materials, books, movies, music, and more — anything you and your neighbors want to jointly invest in or loan to one another! At work, these spaces may be harder to come by but the standard goods-sharing model can be easily tailored to fit in your office kitchen, supply closets, or lounge areas.

Switch from dirty to renewable energy. New York’s Green Power Program makes it easy for you and your neighbors to choose a clean electric supply. Use the NYS Power to Choose website to find clean energy suppliers in your area, and compare the cost and quality of your options to find the best fit.  

Create an urban garden. With some green ingenuity, you and your neighbors can transform underutilized spaces in and around your building into lush, eco-friendly wonders! Beyond providing an aesthetic improvement, urban gardening can provide a direct source of healthy fresh food: residents can benefit from rooftop gardens, indoor greenhouses and window-farming. A green environment can also improve your mood and productivity, serving both homeowners and employers.

Add a bike rack to your building. Encourage your landlord, co-op board, employer, or a team of neighbors to invest in bike racks for your building. Biking is a healthy and accessible way to encourage sustainable transportation; making it easier for residents to own a bike can help alleviate their need to drive and reduce demand for parking.

Create a Building Green Bulletin. Create a messaging board either in print or online where you and your neighbors or co-workers can share information about opportunities for local goods-sharing and donation services.

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