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View Diary: 'Climate Apartheid': Building Privatized City to Protect Rich From Rising Sea Levels (220 comments)

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  •  New York is actually one of the most (0+ / 0-)

    energy efficient places in the U.S.  What's wasteful is carving up the landscape into residential enclaves that can only be accessed via motor vehicles, draw down the aquifer and contribute non-point-source pollution to our fresh-water resources.
    Cities enjoy efficiencies of scale which simply can't be realized under sprawl conditions.

    Obamacare at your fingertips: 1-800-318-2596; TTY: 1-855-889-4325

    by hannah on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 07:31:31 AM PST

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    •  Kinda (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hannah

      I'm an energy efficiency engineer in NYC. According to the actual energy reports (to EPA EnergyStar database) for the past 3 years, NYC buildings are a little above average energy efficiency for the Northeast - not categorically above. The newest buildings are, counterintuitively, less efficient, as are large commercial buildings (standalone glass towers). While most people live and work in rows of adjacent buildings (the ultimate insulation), many buildings from the turn of the 20th Century were designed to force open windows in Winter, for lifesaving ventilation. The overall efficiency is largely from the mass transit and walkability: something like 70% of all energy is consumed by buildings. And much of the transit (subways) and lighting is powered by Indian Point nuke plant, which should be shut down yesteryear but in the meantime at least minimizes emissions (until the decommissioning demolition).

      The company whose tech I've run for several years cuts building energy consumption by 20% average across our thousands of buildings. Installing and running a computer that orchestrates its energy consuming mechanicals more harmoniously. There's a lot more efficiency to be gained than even that, and over 99.9% of our buildings haven't even gotten started. And doing it for NYC does it for up to 15 million people at once.

      But NYC's density causes lots of other problems. Solar isn't as applicable, because so many people share a roof in our tall buildings, with no backyard. Though there's enough space to power our people with panels, suburbs are better because area isn't at such a premium cost. Likewise geothermal heat pumps.

      America had suburbs fully serviced by streetcars, interconnected by rail, until our corporate overlords ripped them up in favor of cars and planes (and coal traffic on the remaining rail). We could replace coal and nuke plants with geothermal power plants, solar and wind, and geothermal buildings. A light/commuter/hispeed rail system could underpin a more robust grid. I cut my own suburban home's heating load by 85% with insulation and devices that paid back within 5 years (20% ROI), and I could cut it in half again with a 7 year payback. Most suburban households could cut their energy consumption at least 30% by driving under 5 miles to commuter rail instead of just driving.

      So yes, the densest cities can be more efficient than suburbs. But even the densest cities can cut a lot right now, and suburbs can mitigate their lower efficiency by greater generation from more sustainable and efficient means. And some radical renovation of our energy systems, already within reach, can make our society efficient and sustainable enough to slow and perhaps even reverse the Greenhouse that looms above us.

      "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

      by DocGonzo on Wed Jan 29, 2014 at 06:12:34 AM PST

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