Environment Forum

U.S. cities take lead on environmental action

“Green Cities,” a new report by a thinktank called Living Cities, examines how American cities have taken the lead on environmental issues in the absence of strong federal action. 

Based on a survey of 40 of the largest U.S. cities, the report points to progress in mandating more efficient city buildings and promoting recycling but notes that talk of creating “green jobs” has been more talk than action.  

Among the main findings:

* Four in five big cities say sustainability is among their top five priorities. Only about one in six says it is not.

* More than three quarters of big cities have or will soon have detailed plans on how to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Nearly all call for cuts of 10 to 20 percent in the next five to 10 years.

* The typical big city has between three and 10 staff members focused on climate change and sustainability. Several have only one staff member dedicated to these issues.

From Suds to Sunshine in Brooklyn

A green contracting outfit based in a former Brooklyn brewery says it’s the first business in a major U.S. city that can sell power back to the grid that it generates from the sun.

New York state gave Big Sue, LLC, which has about 3,500 square feet of solar panels on its roof, the OK to sell any extra power it generates from the panels back to the grid.

For years, homeowners who have put solar panels on their roofs have been able to sell a bit of solar power back to the grid, which has helped them deal with the big costs of buying and installing the panels. For homeowners it can take 8 to 12 years to break even on the initial investment.

Broadway theater lights get a green tint

New York’s famed Broadway lights are getting a green tint. Not literally, of course, but this week the Big Apple’s iconic theaters vowed to make their “Great White Way” shine with more energy efficient bulbs.

The industry has already changed 10,000 interior and exterior bulbs, and that’s just the beginning.

Broadway theaters are also washing costumes in cold water and said they are breaking down sets in a more environmentally responsible manner. For more Broadway’s pledge to “go green,” check out our full story.