Recently, EDF and The Intersector Project teamed up to create a case study on the NYC Clean Heat program, a collaborative effort that included partners from private real estate interests, New York City, oil companies, and the Environmental Defense Fund. The program began in 2007 to improve the city’s air quality and the case study highlights the inter-workings of this cross-sector collaboration that has made NYC Clean Heat such a success.
The NYC Clean Heat project achieved success by transitioning over 3,300 buildings off of No. 6 and No. 4 oil (used to heat residential and commercial buildings in the winter), removing more than 300 tons of soot (PM2.5) from the air New Yorkers breathe. As a result, from 2011 to 2012, New York City was ranked number four for the cleanest air in the nation.
EDF was thrilled to work with the Intersector Project, a non-profit “conducting research in intersector collaboration, and conveying the findings to leaders in every sector to help them design and implement their own effective collaborative initiatives,” on this case study. They spotlight a model that we believes works: by bringing all the right people to the table (government, business, finance, non-profits, and more) and taking an inclusive approach, programs are most effective. NYC Clean Heat has clearly demonstrated this, so we were happy to have the opportunity to show how it works.
Broken up into five parts – The Story, The Collaboration, The Leadership, The Toolkit, and The Intersector Result – the case study aims to uncover what made this unique partnership such a success. Ideally, other big cities interested in improving air quality through energy use modifications will use this case study as a model to replicate New York’s success.
Some of the key takeaways outlined in the case study include:
- Approximately 3,500 buildings converted since 2011, resulting in an estimated 320-ton drop in the amount of airborne soot; this drop has saved an estimated 800 lives and 2,000 hospital visits of local residents. Overall, a 25 percent reduction in air pollution related health incidents.
- Andy Darrell and others at EDF provided leadership to catalyze the program, and recognized the opportunity for a partnership with the City of New York.
- Collaboration across diverse sectors can provide successful, long-term program results.
We hope that the NYC Clean Heat model can continue to be used in New York City to tackle broader issues, such as building-wide energy efficiency and energy affordability. We also feel that the NYC Clean Heat model can be used in other cities to tackle similar issues. For example, the city of White Plains, NY is in the process of proposing legislation similar to what is currently in place in New York City, phasing out the use of heavy heating oil. They and other cities looking to de-carbonize their energy use should look to this case study as a guide.