New York to curb dirty heat, use landfills for solar

Updated environmental plan includes solar farms on capped New York landfills, the phasing out of high-polluting heating fuels, homeowner loans for green upgrades, and a new social-media tool.

Candace Lombardi
In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet, Silicon.com, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.
Candace Lombardi
2 min read
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg The City of New York

New York City plans to restrict the use of dirty heating fuels, use its capped landfills for solar farms, and issue loans for green and energy efficiency upgrades to home owners.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the latest initiatives for PlaNYC, the city's sustainability plan, on Thursday at a press conference in Harlem.

It's part of the lead up to Earth Day, which is Friday, April 22, and also happens to be the anniversary of when PlaNYC was first announced, in 2007.

Over 132 initiatives grew out of "48 public meetings with 220 groups, yielding almost 1,000 ideas, suggestions, and feedback" and are included in the updated plan released by the mayor's office Thursday.

The solar panel/landfill project aims to create partnerships with solar developers. The city plans to offer some of its 3,000 acres of landfill property, including some land on the infamous Fresh Kills landfill, for development of solar farms.

The Clean Heat heating fuel campaign proposes to use financial incentives and a public education campaign to curb the use of certain types of heating oils in favor of natural gas and low-sulfur oil. It came about as a direct result of the findings from the city's most recent air quality assessment.

"Just 1 percent of all buildings in the city produce 86 percent of the total soot pollution from buildings--more than all the cars and trucks in New York City combined. They do this by burning the dirtiest grades of heating fuel available, known as residual oil, or #6 and #4 heating oil," according to an excerpt from the report.

Perhaps taking a cue from social-media savvy Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Mayor Bloomberg announced he would be implementing a social-media platform dedicated to crowd-sourcing answers and directing help on New York issues. The new-media tool, called "Change by Us," will first propose questions to the public, then expand into a platform for any community group to utilize.

The mayor's office also announced via Twitter that Bloomberg would take questions from the public about PlaNYC marked #askmike via Twitter, and try to answer them on his Friday morning radio show.

"97 percent of #PlaNYC's initiatives have been launched. Now we're updating the plan to find new ways to reach our sustainability goals," said a post on the mayor's Twitter page, @NYCMayorsOffice.

Bloomberg was compared with Booker after a December 2010 blizzard in which the Newark Mayor successfully used his Twitter account to oversee Newark resources and communicate directly with residents, while the New York mayor simply tweeted that residents should call the usual agencies.

PlaNYC was originally announced on Earth Day 2007, with the main intent of reducing the city's greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030 when compared with its 2005 levels. As of 2011, emissions have dropped by 13 percent.

PlaNYC not only addresses carbon emissions, it also includes programs to change things like the city's air quality in general, water quality, land use, transportation habits, and electricity usage.