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USA: 90 by 50 plan could reduce New York City’s emissions by 90% by 2050

There is nothing like setting a dramatic target to get people’s attention, and the Urban Green Council is certainly doing so, with their proposal to reduced New York City’s CO2 emissions by 90% by 2050. What’s more, they propose doing it by renovating and rehabilitating existing buildings with a series of measures that are achievable with today’s technology, no silver bullets required.

Some of the ideas they propose are absolute no-brainers and should be part of the building code right now; I am not sure about some of the others, and whether they have thought through all of the implications of scaling things up to New York City sizes. It’s HUGE: we are talking about replacing 99 million windows, 5.7 billion square feet of insulation, 5.65 million residential units and 86,000 commercial buildings. Here’s the plan:
Lower vision glass to 50% maximum

This is a serious no-brainer; there is no need for floor-to-ceiling glass, and it is actually uncomfortable in both summer and winter. Architects and builders like it because it is easy one-stop shopping, but it should just not be allowed. (See Allison Bailes’ great article A good window is still a poor wall)
Increase insulation on solid walls

They are looking for an average of R-20, which isn’t a huge stretch. Prepare for New York to turn into Stucco City, as they suggest that the exterior surface is preferable for insulating.


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