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Could New York City Cut Emissions 90% By 2050?

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the not-likely dept.

Earth 215

First time accepted submitter jscheib writes "According to Will Oremus in Slate, a report released today finds that 'New York City could slash its emissions by a whopping 90 percent by 2050 without any radical new technologies, without cutting back on creature comforts, and maybe even without breaking its budget.' The key elements are insulating buildings to cut energy needs, converting to (mostly) electric equipment, and then using carbon-free electricity to supply the small amount of energy still needed. Oremus notes that including energy savings would reduce the net price tag to something more like $20 billion."

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It's Been Done Elsewhere! (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42906639)

In Detroit. The population's gone from 1M to 800k in twenty years, and energy consumption has plummeted. New York can emulate this success just by continuing it's current direction.

Detroit Time-Lapse Photography (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42906733)

Now, that was unexpected. (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907193)

Or maybe not...

Re:Detroit Time-Lapse Photography (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42907695)

rick rolled how original.

Re:Detroit Time-Lapse Photography (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42908355)

"This video contains content from Channel 5 and WMG, one or more of whom have blocked it in your country on copyright grounds."

I find that hindering would-be Rickrollers is actually the best outcome of copyright law.

Re:It's Been Done Elsewhere! (5, Informative)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a year and a half ago | (#42906867)

According to this article [dteenergy.com] Detroit power consumption has dropped by 10% in eleven years. I would not call that plummeting..

Re:It's Been Done Elsewhere! (1)

mug funky (910186) | about a year and a half ago | (#42906919)

seems to match population decline pretty closely then.

Re:It's Been Done Elsewhere! (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907199)

Population decrease of 20% does not match and energy decrease of 10%. It is off by a factor of 2.

Re:It's Been Done Elsewhere! (2)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about a year and a half ago | (#42908131)

Give Bloomberg more time. And a Nurse Ratched suit. He'll get there.

Re:It's Been Done Elsewhere! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42908175)

maybe the people who left are poor, and less energy consuming than an "average" detroit resident.

Re:It's Been Done Elsewhere! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42907899)

> Detroit power consumption has dropped

no wonder, with neighbourhoods like this in Detroit [google.com]

Re:It's Been Done Elsewhere! (1)

slimjim8094 (941042) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907091)

Considering that New York's "current direction" of population growth is +0.85% a year [wikipedia.org] , probably not.

Re:It's Been Done Elsewhere! (2, Informative)

BlueStrat (756137) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907135)

In Detroit. The population's gone from 1M to 800k in twenty years, and energy consumption has plummeted. New York can emulate this success just by continuing it's current direction.

Yup. I live a little over an hour away from Detroit (thank goodness!).

Want to see what over 40 years of total Liberal/Progressive Democrat and labor union control (Detroit was actually the centerpiece of the Democrat Progressive "Model Cities" program...Google it) looks like?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hhJ_49leBw [youtube.com]

That was a couple years ago. It's worse now, and no indications anything will change for the better. It's also the place to go to kill someone, as around 60%-70% of homicides in Detroit go unsolved.

I had to go there a couple months ago. Do you know there are now parts of Detroit that have big freaking *signs* up, like near a war-zone, warning people entering that they are on their own, that police and emergency services will NOT respond in large and ever-growing areas in the city?

WTF!?

To those who always throw out the "go live in Somalia" in response to those desiring a smaller, less intrusive and abusive government, I say "I don't have to "go" anywhere! Your ideas are *already* bringing Somalia to US! Just look at Detroit!"

I'm just waiting for Somali-style pirates to start operating on the Great Lakes from the harbors in Detroit. That is, if they aren't already, and we just haven't learned of it yet.

Strat

Re:It's Been Done Elsewhere! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42907563)

I'm just waiting for Somali-style pirates to start operating on the Great Lakes from the harbors in Detroit. That is, if they aren't already, and we just haven't learned of it yet.

Hell, with the way Chicago (another Progressive Democrat stronghold for decades) has been going on a similar path of decay, the pirates could have TWO bases, one at each side of the peninsula!

But hey, that shouldn't stop the idiots from doubling-down...yet again...on what they've been doing over and over again for decades, and expanding it too, right? After all, don't results eventually change if you just believe enough in those actions and repeat them enough times, despite all the past failures and everyone's warnings?

Re:It's Been Done Elsewhere! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42908617)

Somali-style pirates won't happen. The army would step in for target practice.

Re:It's Been Done Elsewhere! (2, Interesting)

Z00L00K (682162) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907185)

There are many steps that can be taken to improve energy efficiency.

New York is located close to the Atlantic ocean and that's one decent heatsink, so by pumping out excess heat in the summer into the ocean would be more efficient in two steps - less heat put out in the city, and the temperature difference when doing heat pumping will be lower which can result in lower costs. The disadvantage here is that a lot of pipes needs to be laid down for central cooling in addition to central heating.

Buildings themselves can also be built in a more efficient manner to avoid energy loss. Use of heat exchangers in the ventilation system can reduce heat loss, triple-glass windows with heat reflecting film (like the 3M Prestige 90 [3m.com] ) will keep energy exchange with the outside to a minimum while still providing daylight.

Another factor is that New York at least has a decent sized subway system, and therefore it's easy to extend it. A subway is one of the more effective commuting systems a city can have, but not all politicians understands that, which means that some cities should have had a subway long ago, but don't and they suffer from that today.

Another energy saver is bicycle lanes. But that may be tougher to introduce in a city like New York.

Re:It's Been Done Elsewhere! (1)

azalin (67640) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907343)

Another energy saver is bicycle lanes. But that may be tougher to introduce in a city like New York.

In New York it's more like a designated suicide zone.

Re:It's Been Done Elsewhere! (4, Funny)

amiga3D (567632) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907703)

Win-Win

Re:It's Been Done Elsewhere! (1)

davester666 (731373) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907773)

So, New York should drive their murder rate up, both to directly get rid of residents as well as encourage the remaining ones to move away?

Why bother? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42908033)

The world has stopped heating up.

If you still believe the scam, you have to pretend that the heat is hiding at the bottom of the ocean where it can't be detected. OK, fine. If it can magically get down there without heating the air or the top of the ocean on its way, then it can stay down there.

I want the free energy we were promised in 1950! I don't want to make some big business like Greenpeace rich.

That's a heck of a crystal ball... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42906685)

Of course new technologies will make it possible to reduce emissions, possibly even by 100%, but anyone claiming to plan these things 37 years into the future is full of it. Read some Ray Kurzweil [wikipedia.org] books to get some perspective - maybe he's too optimistic, and then again maybe he isn't. By that time we could definitely have StarTrams [wikipedia.org] , asteroid mining, SBSP [wikipedia.org] , space nuclear, space antimatter, who knows...

Central planners have a long history of screwing things up...

--libman

Re:That's a heck of a crystal ball... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42906829)

>>> Central planners have a long history of screwing things up...

Knee, meet jerk.

Re:That's a heck of a crystal ball... (2)

Namarrgon (105036) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907161)

What new technologies are needed? Thermal insulation has proved highly effective, and many people report up to 90% reductions in energy use & emissions.

Re:That's a heck of a crystal ball... (3, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907675)

Someone's going to have to help me out here:

"anyone claiming to plan these things 37 years into the future is full of it", "Read some Ray Kurzweil books to get some perspective"

Ray Kurzweil, the futurist who predicts a technological singularity in 2045? But I'm not supposed to trust people who claim to be able to predict outcomes decades in the future?

Ask Batman (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42906693)

If he would just stop saving the city and let the League of Shadow destroys the city and kill all its inhabitants, then yes it is possible.

It's all about technology (4, Interesting)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year and a half ago | (#42906717)

Cutting CO2 mainly depends on technology (or cutting the standard of living, which most people don't want to do), aimed at two areas:

1) Non-emitting cars. Electric cars look more viable every day; it's not inconceivable that most people could be driving them by by 2050.
2) Power generation. Whether it comes from coal sequestration or my preferred solution, nuclear [slashdot.org] fusion [imgur.com] , cutting CO2 relies on improvements in power generation technology.

Re:It's all about technology (1)

balsy2001 (941953) | about a year and a half ago | (#42906819)

1) In large metropolitan areas going all electric cars is very realistic in a few decades. The average trip is likely very very short and therefore very amenable to all electric cars. In rural areas it will take probably take longer and be more difficult because the average trip length is much longer (and the farm equipment may never convert, but if that is the only thing burning fossil fuel it probably wouldn't matter). I wouldn't be surprised if there is an order of magnitude difference or more in the average trip length between those on Manhattan island and some farmer in the middle of Iowa. 2) It is like your first link quipped, nuclear fusion has been 50 years away for 50 years. I am a fan of the research and hope it comes to fruition, but there is another kind of nuclear (fission) that currently powers 20% of the country and could basically take emissions from power generation to zero. Expand the fission while waiting for the fusion.

Re:It's all about technology (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42906861)

"Large" metropolitan areas...

I live in Melbourne, Australia and commute an hour to and from work. This is normal. This is a city of only 3. something million. A city 5 times ours I'm sure has longer commute times.

Where do you pull this idea that trips are short?

Re:It's all about technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42906941)

Maybe better transport possibilities would cut down on those times and emission.

A good train/bus connection will keep a lot of the cars of the road, that said, I am a student, and I know just as well as anybody that a good connection is very hard to get. Ranging from the busses being totally full, or the train too late so you miss the train/bus connection or simply not a good one at your time.

The biggest improvement for me, in that regard would be a better waiting place. Currently often the bus waiting zone is outside, with just a rove over your head. Which is less then ideal if you have to spend 10-30 minutes waiting in the winter. The train zones usually are a little better, but far from perfect.

Also, is it crazy for me to assume an electric car may actually make a trip from an hour without too much problems? Whats the distance of this commute anyway? Wouldn't it make a lot more sense to work form home with commutes that are this long? I know not all companies will like that idea, but it doesn't seem impossible to get it going in a lot of companies.

Re:It's all about technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42906965)

NYC. Pretty much everything is in walking distance. Parking is a nightmare though.

Re:It's all about technology (3, Insightful)

GumphMaster (772693) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907039)

By "large" balsy2001 seems to mean "large, densely packed population". NY City is very densely packed and that is definitely an aid to trip distance and time reduction. Unfortunately for both the US and Australia large is almost always synonymous with sprawling when it comes to cities. Coupled with "transport infrastructure" being a euphemism for "bare minimum road network for private vehicles" there's little hope that mass public transport can come to the rescue.

Re:It's all about technology (1)

balsy2001 (941953) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907075)

Yes, that is what I meant.

Re:It's all about technology (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42907041)

You're looking at it backwards. Cities that are larger than Melbourne are generally more compact as well leading to shorter travel distances. Of course, the GP should have said cities and not "metropolitan areas" because "metropolitan areas" include suburbs and that is where you start seeing 1 hour+ commute times.

Re:It's all about technology (3, Insightful)

balsy2001 (941953) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907409)

You are right and that is more what I was thinking. However, when I lived in DC, I had a near 1 hours commute that amounted to less than 20 miles. Another apartment I lived at the drive home was between 45 minutes and 1 hours 15 minutes and it was like 7 miles. I had colleagues in DC that used electric cars that did very well in the 1+ hour commute of stop and go traffic. When I lived in a mountain state away from big cities and metropolitan areas I commuted 1 hours 15 minutes but covered 56 miles, each way. It was also not uncommon for us to drive a few hundred miles in a day on the weekend.

Re:It's all about technology (1)

dkf (304284) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907823)

Another apartment I lived at the drive home was between 45 minutes and 1 hours 15 minutes and it was like 7 miles.

Did you ever suspect you were perhaps using the wrong technology to do the commute?

Re:It's all about technology (1)

balsy2001 (941953) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907885)

I rode my bike to work for 3 years at that job because driving was so bad. I only did it occasionally for that precise reason (maybe once every couple of months).

Re:It's all about technology (1)

LordLucless (582312) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907049)

How much of that time is idling in traffic? Electric cars should have a very low draw when idle. It's not so much the duration of your trip that matters but the distance. If you're driving an hour to and from work at the speed limit, then you're not within Melbourne's city limits, you're coming in from the suburbs.

Re:It's all about technology (2)

Troll-in-Training (1815480) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907239)

How much of that time is idling in traffic? Electric cars should have a very low draw when idle. It's not so much the duration of your trip that matters but the distance. If you're driving an hour to and from work at the speed limit, then you're not within Melbourne's city limits, you're coming in from the suburbs.

Stop and go eats batteries, having to constantly accelerate to get back up to speed is much more draining than crusing. Crowded cities devour batteries. Distance matters but traffic matters more, an hour in stop and go traffic will wipe your charge and refilling a battery is still not as simple as filling a tank.

Re:It's all about technology (1)

balsy2001 (941953) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907867)

It depends on the situation but I don't I don't think an hour in stop and go traffic will deplete the batteries of even current generation electric cars (see http://auto.howstuffworks.com/can-electric-cars-survive-major-traffic-jams.htm [howstuffworks.com] ). The Nissan leaf normally has a 100 mile radius, under ideal conditions that wouldn't have covered the round trip commute for my last job, 56 miles (I lived out west in the mountains and there was no traffic). The link states that stop and go traffic on a cold day reduced the range to 62 miles. That is still several hours of stop and go traffic. In DC, for example that would allow a round trip to a location about 20 miles outside the beltway (last time I lived there that would put you on about an hour and a half commute each way). I think it would be safe to say that if your one way commute is less than 25 miles or less than 2 hours, you are probably OK with an all electric car. However, if your one way commute is greater than 25 miles or 2 hours, you probably need a hybrid or gasoline car. I can't speak for NYC but in DC the majority of people who commuted into the district itself lived within the shorter limit.

Re:It's all about technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42908773)

Stop and go eats batteries, having to constantly accelerate to get back up to speed is much more draining than crusing.

Which of course is why the range of the Nissan Leaf is almost 30% better in the city than on the highway [nissanusa.com] , right?

Re:It's all about technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42907339)

Electric cars should have a very low draw when idle.

Not if you need heating+defrosting or cooling (but apparently the Prius has a very efficient airconditioner (made by Denso?) - problem is I can't find any official power consumption figures on it).

Re:It's all about technology (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907505)

"Large" metropolitan areas...

I live in Melbourne, Australia and commute an hour to and from work. This is normal. This is a city of only 3. something million. A city 5 times ours I'm sure has longer commute times.

Where do you pull this idea that trips are short?

3 millions if you think of "The Greater Melbourne" (that is including the suburbs) - which means a "city" radius of about 50 km.
However, if you refer to "the City of Melbourne" (aka CBD; let's take the inner suburbs as well = max 10 km radius), I fail to see how commuting to/from work takes an hour each way.

Re:It's all about technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42908073)

When people say Melbourne or the city of Melbourne (small c) they are referring to the Melbourne metro area, which is huge. I live in the outer suburbs and it takes me over an hour to commute to the city (CBD) (20 minutes on bus, 10 minutes avg train wait, 30+ minutes on train, 10 minute walk - times vary a lot). The City of Melbourne is a council consisting of the CBD and a few inner suburbs (but not all). I most definitely live in Melbourne.

Re:It's all about technology (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year and a half ago | (#42908577)

the city of Melbourne (small c)

You see, though, the context is "the New York City" with Capital c. Yes, I know, they are 8mils+, but the land area they live on is 789 sq.km (if it would be a circle, the radius of the circle would be only about 16 km. About 28 km side if a perfect square). And in regards with the transportation, it is the "size" as in distance that matter, not the size of its population.

Re:It's all about technology (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about a year and a half ago | (#42908643)

Hard to compare. Melbourne has what I consider a somewhat average public transport system, a 10km trip could be an hour long commute by either public transport or peak hour traffic. Melbourne while it's a big city is not very dense at all. A large portion of the population lives in suburban houses typical of most Australian cities. Apartment living isn't quite as widespread in Australian living.

To put some numbers to this claim:
Melbourne population density: ~4000 people/sq mi
New York City population density: ~27000 people/sq mi

Urban layout is also an issue. While I can't comment on New York, a lot of typical Australian cities have horrendous layout with one centralised business district. The further from the city you live the further your trip. A lot of European cities who town centres are heritage listed don't have this problem. Business districts are spread around the town in rings with high-rises disperse around the city. In these towns people tend to work closer to home as well.

Re:It's all about technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42907025)

Cutting CO2 mainly depends on technology (or cutting the standard of living, which most people don't want to do), aimed at two areas:

1) Non-emitting cars. Electric cars look more viable every day; it's not inconceivable that most people could be driving them by by 2050.

2) Power generation. Whether it comes from coal sequestration or my preferred solution, nuclear [slashdot.org] fusion [imgur.com] , cutting CO2 relies on improvements in power generation technology.

No it isn't, it's simply about insulation. Buildings and houses can save 90% of energy used by simply insulating things like attics and walls. Boring I know.

Re:It's all about technology (1)

nukenerd (172703) | about a year and a half ago | (#42908023)

it's simply about insulation. Buildings and houses can save 90% of energy used by simply insulating things like attics and walls. Boring I know.

I don't know about New York, but most houses in the UK are already insulated up to the hilt. There may be another 5% to gain if you add another yard of insulation, but it is diminishing returns. 90% less? (Do they really mean using only one tenth the energy they do now?) - no way! Even starting from a base of no insulation (like my parents' house did) there was no-where near a 90% gain. More like 30%

To get 90% gain you would need to knock all buildings down and start with something fundamentally different. Airlock doors for a start, like into a microchip factory clean-room.

Re:It's all about technology (2)

jcupitt65 (68879) | about a year and a half ago | (#42908691)

A lot of UK housing stock is pretty dismal for insulation. For example, Victorian homes generally have walls which are a single layer of brick with no possibility for cavity insulation, and the original, single-pane sash windows. The house I live in has a maid's room built into the roof and it's just not possible to fit loft insulation either.

Fixing this really requires new build to a good standard. New building regs are coming in 2016 which will require all new homes to be zero carbon. In other words, they will require no energy at all for heating or cooling:

http://www.zerocarbonhub.org/ [zerocarbonhub.org]

So hopefully we'll see a 100% improvement over a large section of the existing stock. It'll be a very, very long time before a large proportion of housing becomes as good as this, sadly.

Re:It's all about technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42907173)

reducing co2 in nyc isn't a problem.. and don't need any new technology either.. just a long extension cord running to coal-fired power plants in west virginia to provide the city's electricity...

banning these three things wouldn't need any new technology either, and would cut down the number of those extension cords needed...........

ban all non-electric (including hybrids) modes of ground transportation, except amtrak. allow new jersey to fully realize its potential: "Manhattan's parking lot"

ban all non-electric forms of hvac or water heating.

ban all cabbage, beans, hard boiled eggs, indian and greek delis, and other 'sources' of natural methane exhaust.

Re:It's all about technology (1)

azalin (67640) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907391)

you seem to have forgotten:
3) Conserving energy. By insulating houses and replacing ineffective systems it is relatively easy to save a lot of energy (and thereby CO2) without a negative impact on the standard of living. Actually good insulation improves living standards more often than not.
The problem here is that stuff like this needs investments (which pay off after a few years though). Rental houses will need some encouragement to do this, because the owner (the one paying for insulation) does not (directly) reap the benefits (lower electricity bills for people living there). On the long term people will prefer housing with higher energy standards (lower extra costs) if a choice exists and thereby provide a reason for the owner to upgrade.

Re:It's all about technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42907437)

You are not saying that the government should interfere here, are you?

Only communists care for others!

Re:It's all about technology (0)

cffrost (885375) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907625)

Cutting CO2 mainly depends on technology (or cutting the standard of living, which most people don't want to do), aimed at two areas:

1) Non-emitting cars. Electric cars look more viable every day; it's not inconceivable that most people could be driving them by by 2050.

I'm not so sure... have you seen this review of the Tesla S? [nytimes.com] :o)

Dreamy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42906875)

Sounds like they get to have their cake *and* eat it too. It's a miracle! Let's not kid ourselves: regardless of whether or not you personally think that it's worth it, important, essential, whatever--cutting CO2 emissions is extremely costly. Even 20 BILLION doesn't just grow on trees. It has to come from somewhere. It's all trade-offs. If your personal paradigm says it's worth 20 Billion, than you're unlikely to care if your taxes go up to cover the bill, and your ability to afford your "creature comforts" declines.

Re:Dreamy (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907061)

Agreed.

First thing I noticed was the Insulating Buildings.
Glibly thrown out there like it's cheap, quick, or even possible in a city the size of New York with a bazillion buildings of various ages.
It takes 6 months on a small two story building, and could take 6 years and hundreds of millions of dollars for any building over 20 floors.

Re:Dreamy (3, Informative)

Namarrgon (105036) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907177)

They already refitted the Empire State Building, and achieved payoff in only 3 years. Now it's saving $4.4M/year of pure gravy.

It can certainly cost millions, but the returns can be much more, over the life of the building.

Re:Dreamy (1)

Namarrgon (105036) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907737)

Just to be clear - the full refit cost a lot, but the incremental added cost of improving energy efficiency had a three-year payoff. Timing the efficiency upgrades to be done in conjunction with necessary building refits can save a lot of money.

Re:Dreamy (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a year and a half ago | (#42908579)

According to this document [esbtour.com] the retrofit will reduce "consumption of watts and BTUs by a guaranteed 38.4%". Not quite 90%. That would require changing the steam plant and electricity production.

Re:Dreamy (0)

azalin (67640) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907427)

6 months on a two story building? Last time I saw a facade refitted, it took less than two weeks. Upgrading windows the windows too might take a little longer but still a LOT less than six months. Even six weeks is a reason to look for different contractors.

Re:Dreamy (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907477)

Facade?

What about all four walls, and the roof?
Are you talking about a quick spray foam, or real insulation?

Re:Dreamy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42907435)

It takes 6 months on a small two story building

Really? Energy companies in the Netherlands have already advertized for years that they can insulate your house cheaply and within a day.

Re:Dreamy (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907617)

House != NYC building.

Re:Dreamy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42907471)

Yeah, 20 billion is like what, a couple of years of Morgan Stanley bonuses? Way too much for a city like New York to spend.

Re:Dreamy (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907567)

Sounds like they get to have their cake *and* eat it too

You reckon? One reasons for renewable power working well in Germany: they also started to build in a "energy efficient manner and insulate the old buildings. Here's why [efficiency...rmany.info] :

German building stock currently consumes approximately three to (in the worse cases) ten times as much energy for heating as new builds.

Loans/mortgages for insulating buildings would be a win-win situation for the case of older ones. (if you start insulating some buildings, the money saved on energy can be used for insulating others... I think Bloomberg could even choose to offer "0 rate loans/returnable subsidies" from the city budget...).

Can they? Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42906893)

Will they? Ah! Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah!

Misguided (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42906897)

Last I checked, NYC does not exist in a vacuum. Addressing residential energy efficiency would barely put a dent in our enormous energy consumption. Perhaps if we succeed in completely moving industry over to China it could mean something, but not something good in either case.

Efficiency is a worthy pursuit, but we need focus on real energy solutions, not the fantasy that we can arbitrarily reduce our energy consumption to zero, or that we will ever derive a significant fraction of our energy from renewables.

Re:Misguided (1)

Namarrgon (105036) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907143)

Buildings as a whole consume 72% of total US electricity [rmi.org] (42% of total energy). There's plenty of scope for impact.

Obviously we don't need to reduce energy consumption to zero, just emissions. And it's inevitable that we'll switch to 100% renewable energy eventually, by definition - non-renewable energy isn't renewed, and will run out (or just get too expensive to use).

Re:Misguided (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42907481)

Electricity accounts for roughly 39% of US energy consumption. 72% of 39% is 28%, leaving 72% of total energy consumption untouched by the proposed efficiency improvements. Assuming a very generous 50% savings from efficiency, we save 14% overall. Good, yet still totally insufficient to get us off of fossil fuels.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:LLNLUSEnergy2011.png [wikipedia.org]

Re:Misguided (2)

Namarrgon (105036) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907719)

Nice diagram, though it's 39 quadrillion BTUs, not 39%. Still, 40% of $280B total electricity cost would be $39B annually; a pretty significant savings. But it's more than that, because thermal efficiencies result in a lot of savings from gas & oil heating too.

But it's unrelated to the issue of fossil fuels. Efficiency gains reduce and delay the impact of CO2 emissions, but transitioning our energy infrastructure away from fossil fuels will still have to happen sooner or later, even if only to maintain supply.

And pigs might fly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42906927)

We might also move to 100% green energy if we carpet the entire surface of the earth with solar cells. Until people reduce and make their own efforts to reduce there energy needs through economic (if you don't save on costs or get paid, it is not reasonable to ask people to change their habits) means then it wont work.

Re:And pigs might fly... (3, Informative)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907661)

We might also move to 100% green energy if we carpet the entire surface of the earth with solar cells. Until people reduce and make their own efforts to reduce there energy needs through economic (if you don't save on costs or get paid, it is not reasonable to ask people to change their habits) means then it wont work.

You would only need to cover some percentage of desert area (not even all of it: do a computation using the solar constant [wikipedia.org] , total world energy production [enerdata.net] and assume only 12% conversion efficiency for PV - you'll be surprised of how low the percentage of the world surface would need to be covered by PV-es. I've done this computation in the past). The only engineering problem is the transport of the energy around the globe.

Insulation will cost more than you think (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42906931)

Please don't repeat Gillard's absolute failure in Australia when it comes to insulating buildings. She was responsible for numerous deaths and nearly bankrupting our country.

Re:Insulation will cost more than you think (1)

Namarrgon (105036) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907151)

Hah, "bankrupted"? Citation needed if ever I saw one..

Re:Insulation will cost more than you think (1)

Mashiki (184564) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907691)

Hah, "bankrupted"? Citation needed if ever I saw one..

Would you take Ontario, Canada as well? The Liberals here have done the same thing with their "green initiative" programs.

Some insulation sure would help (2)

ShoulderOfOrion (646118) | about a year and a half ago | (#42906963)

As a lifelong rural inhabitant, I've always been amazed, whenever I've visited NYC, at just how energy-inefficient many of the buildings are. Single-pane windows, little insulation, baseboard heaters, drafty weatherstripping, the works. I've been there when it's been blazingly hot, and again when it's been bitterly cold, and in both cases the standard solution seems to be to just crank the environmental controls to max. When you split wood in the summer for heat in the winter you quickly develop a respect for how quickly those little inefficiencies add up, and you do something about them. Apparently New Yorkers don't have a similar feedback loop between their effort and their energy usage. Either that, or they're making so much money packaging derivatives their power bills are below the monthly bill noise floor.

Re:Some insulation sure would help (1)

Troll-in-Training (1815480) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907401)

As a lifelong rural inhabitant, I've always been amazed, whenever I've visited NYC, at just how energy-inefficient many of the buildings are. Single-pane windows, little insulation, baseboard heaters, drafty weatherstripping, the works. I've been there when it's been blazingly hot, and again when it's been bitterly cold, and in both cases the standard solution seems to be to just crank the environmental controls to max. When you split wood in the summer for heat in the winter you quickly develop a respect for how quickly those little inefficiencies add up, and you do something about them. Apparently New Yorkers don't have a similar feedback loop between their effort and their energy usage. Either that, or they're making so much money packaging derivatives their power bills are below the monthly bill noise floor.

New York has rent controls, harsh building codes and corrrupt building inspectors.

When you build a new residential building you know that the first rent you offer will be all that you are likely to get as you are prohibited from raising it and people avoid moving as much as possible to save money on rent via the controls. You also have to bribe the inspectors whether or not you follow the codes so skimping on materials is also common as you are bribing the inspectors anyway you might as well get something for it. As you cannot adjust your prices in the future to cover improvements you build using the simplest and easiest to maintain technologies you can get away with and you do as little to maintain it as possible - maintenance comes directly out of your constantly shrinking profits.

New York landlords are very corrupt because only the corrupt can stomach the crap you have to put up with to be a landlord. Rent controls ensure that there is limited new construction as only the rich can afford to live in a new building, and buildings decay quickly as landlords can't afford to maintain older buildings with long established residents.

People get used to using the Heat and A/C to make up for the deficiencies in the sometimes 100 year old buildings which are uneconomical for the owners to upgrade due to rent controls. As proper construction is expensive to maintain, few new buildings get any but the most basic features unless they are being built for rich people. Crappy living conditions and high heating and cooling costs are a negative externality of the rent controls.

Re:Some insulation sure would help (1)

balsy2001 (941953) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907475)

It may have to do with the age of the buildings. For example, energy efficient windows are not a large incremental cost for new construction, but is a fairly decent expenditure on older construction. The cost payback for windows is typically very long in single family homes (I don't know about condos etc.). I know insulation in a single family home is very easy to install and has a good pay back rate (again I don't know about doing it for condos etc.). Weather stripping and sealing are cheap and easy to install all around (this one should be a no brainer). I suspect that installing central heating and AC comes down to the large upfront cost and space issues for the condos. I also suspect that apartments are like that because the land lords don't much care to make the improvements.

Re:Some insulation sure would help (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907975)

When you split wood in the summer for heat in the winter you quickly develop a respect for how quickly those little inefficiencies add up, and you do something about them.

And believe me, that respect increases when you find out that you did not split enough wood in summer and have to grab your axe and do some chopping in the freezing cold, as I found out last week. Ok, I wouldn't have had to, since I got oil heating to, but given the relative cost of oil and wood, I very much prefer to run the oil burner at a minimum. Also, a huge-ass tiled stove in the living room simply rocks.

Build Stark Tower, Power Up ARK Reactor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42907023)

...better than first post ;)

38% energy savings (4, Informative)

Namarrgon (105036) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907047)

That's what they achieved when they retrofitted [rmi.org] the Empire State Building. Paid for itself in only 3 years, and now delivers $4.4M savings annually.

Insulation, smart energy controls etc do cost money, but the energy savings can more than pay [rmi.org] for it over the life of the building. Better designs can save up to 69% of energy costs. And there's a lot of ripple-effect savings too, by reducing emissions and freeing up capital.

Of course, getting completely off coal, oil & gas will eventually cut emissions to zero, but there's a more immediate & guaranteed payoff simply by improving efficiencies.

Re:38% energy savings (1)

balsy2001 (941953) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907487)

Another advantage of becoming more efficient is you need fewer new generating facilities to break the cycle and get to ~0 emissions.

Re:38% energy savings (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a year and a half ago | (#42908623)

38% is the low hanging fruit. To take an existing building to higher inefficiencies gets exponentially harder and there may be a point that it is impossible to improve upon and still have the building functional. Sure new buildings can have very high inefficiencies but it will take a very long time to rebuild NY City.

population reduction is key to reduced energy need (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42907079)

I figure that by 2050 the Agenda will have been brought fully into effect and part of that agenda is a reduction of the world's and therefore New York's population by more than 90%. Just the forced population reduction will create the conditions needed to eliminate most of the energy needs and the waste gases and garbage generated by the city.

Look up Agenda 21, negative population credits, 500 million or 100 million population cap for the world.

But, of course, this transition to a reduced population living of the dregs of whatever energy can be got from windmills and photovoltaic (assuming that the sustainability crowd doesn't kibosh those. they've already shut down one solar energy plant in California.) won't support the transition from a type 0 to a type 1 civilization as many are expecting. Some say that the major forces fighting the transition from a type 0 to type 1 civilization are the religious and political zealots. Widen your view and you'll see that the major threat to a type 1 civilization on this planet is the ecology movement. Look closely and you'll find that is primary goal is to keep everything just as it is, no changes, no progress, a vast reduction in consumption of resources than we already have and a return of most of the planet back to a wild state.

We won't even be able to muster the resources to start harvesting resources from extra-planetary sources.

I got a better idea. (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907243)

Nuclear has a very low carbon footprint.

One of the things they mention in there is insulation. It's a bit hard to insulate big glass windows, which new york has a lot of. Yes you can double pane them and even (very expensively) vacuum the middle but they still transfer heat pretty well.

Unless of course you got rid of those windows, but they said without removing any creature comforts. I don't know about anybody else, but sunlight fits into my definition of a creature comfort.

Re:I got a better idea. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907321)

There's assorted plastic films which can be applied to the glass which will save more energy than double-paning. It's not worth it to build evacuated windows, though some are filled with Nitrogen.

Re:I got a better idea. (2)

flyingfsck (986395) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907375)

Nitrogen. That is just air really. Strangely, Nitrogen is cheaper than dried air. Got to be dry else you get condensation on the inside of the glass.

Re:I got a better idea. (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907411)

Nitrogen. That is just air really. Strangely, Nitrogen is cheaper than dried air. Got to be dry else you get condensation on the inside of the glass.

Amusingly, it is also significantly more insulative than air, even though so much of air is nitrogen.

Just fucking nuke it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42907267)

The world would be a better place if we killed everyone in that sewer called New York.

Re:Just fucking nuke it (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907723)

While I know NYC has it's problems it's got lots of great people. You know what happened to the last bunch of idiots that attacked NYC don't you? They've been running and hiding and dying ever since.

Re:Just fucking nuke it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42907931)

It has zero good people. New Yorkers are cunts.

2050? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42907283)

Really? By then I sure hope that most cars will be using some kind of "clean" energy, if not, someone is clearly not doing his job right.

Decrease CO2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42907315)

New York can reduce Co2 emissions by doing the following:
1) Stop burning oil. Start with outlawing the burning of #6 oil then stop the burning of #2 oil. Convert to gas.
2) Home insulation, double pane windows, better weather stripping
3) Hybrid cars, electric cars, Hi mileage cars
4) More energy efficient appliances, lighting, and air conditioning

Replace the windows! (5, Interesting)

water-vole (1183257) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907493)

I stayed at a really fancy hotel in NYC, where enormous amounts of money had been spent on interior decoration. But the windows were single glass windows which let through a lot of cold and noise. You cannot buy such bad windows in many European countries. Why do they not install proper triple-glass windows? I have not seen any building in NY with proper windows. Do they not sell them in the US?

Re:Replace the windows! (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42907949)

Don't make any assumptions about the U.S. based on what you see in NYC. New York is a fucking shithole.

Re:Replace the windows! (3, Interesting)

Simulant (528590) | about a year and a half ago | (#42908669)

My house is full of single pane, leaky windows. I'd love to replace the windows but a) the mortgage is still underwater b) I could only afford to replace 1 or 2 per year, and c) my neighborhood association would complain that I'm lowering the value of their property in our "Historical Neighborhood". (yes, seriously)

I'd love some of those German multipane windows that open two ways....they are awesome, but I'd have to import them and my neighbors would throw a fit.

Yes, I was a naive first time home buyer.... Never again.

Re:Replace the windows! (4, Funny)

cute-boy (62961) | about a year and a half ago | (#42908733)

With double or triple glazing you wouldn't hear your neighbours whining so much?

Investments (3, Interesting)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907541)

Everybody sensible already knows you can, but people are afraid of investments. Of course insulation pays back quite soon but people are afraid of investments.
The only ones who can really help are banks. They could lower mortgages on well insulated houses. 1% is a big incentive.

Re:Investments (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42908371)

Of course, there would have to be an incentive for the bank to do that.

Cf: Amory Lovins & Rocky Mountain Inst [RMI.or (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42907557)

So, Lovins has been promoting "super-[insulating]-windows" a well as "curving" pipes (that may have been bent, in original designs, by 90 deg's, thereby causing increased friction, to fluids moving through them, thus requiring larger pumps, that require far more power to drive them), to bring buildings closer to being zero-emissions.

This is what happens when a Physicist is put in[to competition] with the architects, et al., who typically have more to do with how much a building costs to run, over its lifetime.

He calls for contracts with architects, that call for post-completion payments - whenever the building saves $$$ for its owner, in reduced operating costs. (An architect could even earn such payments by modifying the building to save running costs, in conjunction with checking its various systems, that routinely occur in the early years, after being released into service.)

(See Lovins' talks, etc., on TED.com & Fora.TV, etc.)

Of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42907861)

What a stupid question! They could ban cars and force all people to become vegetarians. Of they could kill all inhabitants of the city. There are endless possibilities to cut down emissions.

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