Empire State Building Gets a Green Overall

The Empire State Building in New York has received a green overall that has cut 20% of the building’s energy consumption and will save the owners a ton of cash.

The renovations are part of a $500 million rehab plan for the building. The building’s owners, Malkin Holdings LLC, filed for an initial public offering back in February which valued the building at $2.5 billion.

The changes to the Empire State include:

–Filling the existing windows with an energy saving gas and adding an additional plastic pane.

–Upgrading the building’s cooling system.

–Using computerized “smart” energy management technology that can adjust temperatures floor by floor.

–Provide tenants with detailed energy use in their space.

–Automatically shut off lights in unused areas.

Read more at CNN.

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Subways to (Kinda) Power Themselves

Most hybrid cars capture energy excerpted while braking and use it to help refill the battery. A company that makes flywheels will be working with New York City to apply the same kinetic energy capture concept to subway cars, meaning that the subways will become an even more efficient way to travel. Every time a subway car enters a station and applies the brakes its capturing kinetic energy to get it started again.

The difference is that the power generated would reach into the megawatts. A 10-car subway train in New York’s system might require a jolt of three to four megawatts of power for 30 seconds to get up to cruising speed, according to Louis Romo, vice president of sales at Vycon. That’s enough to power 1,300 average U.S. homes.

And when one train leaves the station, another one comes in right on its heels. While delivering walloping surges in power like that to downtown stations is feasible, remote stations can experience drops in power. Train departures have to literally be staggered to accommodate the availability of power.

“Almost every rail company in the U.S. has a station where voltage sag is a problem,” said Romo.

Vycon claims it can help smooth out this problem by effectively getting the trains to act like Priuses. When drivers hit the brakes on their hybrids, the kinetic energy of the moving car gets transformed into electric power that then gets stored in the battery.

Read more at Green Tech Media.

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Frank Gehry’s Cool New New York Project

That crazy architect Frank Gehry has an environmental and socially conscious development going up in New York City. I love it when high-profile people work on projects that are down to earth.

Unsurprisingly, New York by Gehry is not seeking LEED certification, but a spokeswoman informed Inhabitat that the building does have a variety of green features, including low-e windows, Energy Star appliances and greywater filtration. Plus, the building has lots of green/outdoor space.

Probably the biggest surprise to come out of the luxury building is that all 903 apartments will be rent stabilized. Developer Forest City Ratner received Liberty Bonds and city tax breaks for the building, so in return they must keep the apartments rent stabilized for 20 years. Plus, a senior vice president at Ratner told DNAinfo that they are offering one month free rent. But that doesn’t mean they’re cheap — rents still start at market rate, which is $3,580 for a one bedroom.

Read the rest at Inhabitat

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Microfinance in New York City

Microfinance has been working very well in the developing world as a way to support people in creating better opportunities for themselves and their communities by providing a small amount of money for projects. People who would otherwise be rejected for a loan can qualify for a microloan and then use that money to start a business.

Now programs in New York City are helping people in poverty start small business to better themselves.

Fortunately, she found Project Enterprise. The $1,500 loan she received allowed her to get a license and purchase the equipment to start grooming pets in her apartment. With this increased offering of services, the income of Bridgette’s business more than doubled. She has already taken out a second loan to buy equipment to let her handle more pets, and is now planning for her third loan, to take the next step and expand into an actual storefront

Read more at the blog of the Grameen Foundation.

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Oysters to the Rescue

Some people eat them while others use them to make the world a better place. I like using them to clean up pollutants and the like, be warned though oysters are not as plentiful as they were.

Hopefully after this talk you’ll be pro-oyster and spreading the word on how great they are at cleaning the environment! Let’s save the oysters to save our planet.

Architect Kate Orff sees the oyster as an agent of urban change. Bundled into beds and sunk into city rivers, oysters slurp up pollution and make legendarily dirty waters clean — thus driving even more innovation in “oyster-tecture.” Orff shares her vision for an urban landscape that links nature and humanity for mutual benefit.

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