Author Archives: Abbey Brown

EDF-Led Public-Private Coalition a Model for Cities around the World

Abbey BrownBy now you might have heard the story.  Andy Darrell and his fellow colleagues in EDF’s New York office were staring out the window of their office near Gramercy Park several years ago when they noticed thick plumes of black smoke rising from a nearby building.  As New York regional director of the Environmental Defense Fund and a member of outgoing Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC Sustainability Advisory Board, it struck Andy that they could actually do something about it.  Embarking on a plan that aimed to phase out the City’s dirtiest heating oils, the successful EDF-led NYC Clean Heat campaign was born.

This story officially entered New York City environmental lore when New York Magazine included it in the annual Reasons to Love New York issue as “Reason 19. Because Our Air Is the Cleanest It’s Been in 50 Years.”  The recent article describes the public-private coalition of city officials, lawmakers, non-profits and private sector banks that came together for a $100 million financing program that would help building owners make the transition to cleaner fuels.  The result: around 3,000 buildings have converted to cleaner fuels, which has been the primary driver in reducing sulfur-dioxide pollution by nearly 70 percent. Read More »

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WATCH: NYC Clean Heat Video

EDF’s US Climate and Energy Program takes to the airwaves

A lot has been happening with NYC Clean Heat lately.  We have converted over 1,200 boilers to the cleanest available fuels and we have reduced over 150 tons of soot pollution, or particulate matter (PM2.5), from the air.  That number is equivalent to removing over 800,000 light-duty passenger vehicles from the road for one year, or over 13 billion miles traveled!

And now we’re taking to the airwaves.  We created a video to showcase our achievements and create a new outreach tool to propel us to our next accomplishment.

Source: NYC Clean Heat

To give you a little background, NYC’s Department of Health estimates that achieving our goal, reducing soot pollution by replacing highly-polluting No. 6 and No. 4 heating oils to the cleanest available fuels, will result in over 120 lives saved each year and prevent hundreds of emergency room visits and hospitalizations for respiratory and cardiovascular conditions.  Approximately 1,500 buildings still need to complete conversions by the end of the year, and, roughly 2,000 permits for No. 6 oil are set to expire before March 2014, representing 232 tons of soot pollution.  Here’s an astonishing fact – only 1% of all buildings in NYC use these heavily polluting heating oils, yet burning these oils creates more soot than all of the cars and trucks in NYC combined.  The problem is grave, but the solution is within grasp. Read More »

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New York City’s Air Is Well On Its Way To Becoming Cleaner Than Ever

NYC Clean Heat is halfway to achieving its goal of reducing harmful heating oil soot pollution in New York City by 50 percent by the end of 2013.

The NYC Clean Heat program experienced tremendous growth in 2012. The Mayoral announcement in June 2012 marked the official transition from the pilot phase to full implementation of the NYC Clean Heat program, which aims to clean the air in New York City by helping buildings convert from highly-polluting No. 6 and No. 4 heating oils to the cleanest available fuels. The heating oils used in one percent of New York City buildings create more soot pollution than all the cars and trucks in the City combined – that’s why upgrading these buildings to cleaner heating fuel is the single largest step New Yorkers can take to solve local air pollution.

The goal of NYC Clean Heat is to cut heating oil soot pollution in half by the end of 2013. NYC’s Department of Health estimates that achieving this goal will result in over 120 lives saved each year and prevent hundreds of emergency room visits and hospitalizations for respiratory and cardiovascular conditions.

I’ve been a part of the NYC Clean Heat team for almost two years now, and I can tell you that I am floored by the progress we’ve made. For instance: 

  • By the end of 2012, over 1,200 boilers – well beyond the number of conversions the regulations required – have switched to natural gas or ultra-low sulfur No. 2 (some of the cleanest available fuels), and over 2,000 additional boilers in line to convert.
  • These 1,200 conversions have resulted in over 150 tons of reduction of soot pollution, or particulate matter (PM2.5), which is equivalent to removing over 800,000 light-duty passenger vehicles from the road for 1 year. That’s over 13 billion miles travelled!
  • NYC Clean Heat won the 2013 Citizen Budget Commission’s Award for Public Service Innovation.

Why is all of this important? Approximately 1,500 buildings still need to complete conversions in 2013. Also, roughly 2,000 permits for No. 6 oil are set to expire before March 2014, representing 232 tons of soot pollution. Because this week is National Public Health Week, we are more aware than ever of what reducing air pollution in New York City will mean. NOW is the time to take action. Read More »

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