Newly Un-Flooded New York Subway Still Looking Pretty Horrible – Commute – The Atlantic Cities

Newly Un-Flooded New York Subway Still Looking Pretty Horrible – Commute – The Atlantic Cities.

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Honeybee Swarms Increase in N.Y.C. After Mild Spring –

Honeybee Swarms Increase in N.Y.C. After Mild Spring -


One swarm covered the side-view mirror of a Volvo station wagon in a lot by the Hudson River, trapping a family of three inside. Another humming cluster the size of a watermelon bent a tree branch in front of a Chase Bank on the Lower East Side, attracting a crowd of gasping onlookers. And for several hours, thousands of bees carpeted a two-foot-tall red standpipe on the patio of a South Street Seaport restaurant, sending would-be outdoor diners elsewhere.

This spring in New York City, clumps of homeless bees have turned up, often in inconvenient public places, at nearly double the rate of past years. A warm winter followed by an early spring, experts say, has created optimal breeding conditions. That may have caught some beekeepers off guard, especially those who have taken up the practice in recent years.

When Happy Miller, the Seaport restaurant manager, saw tourists flailing their arms in a cloud of airborne black specks late last month, he closed the glass door and quietly panicked.

“Oh my God, what do I do?” he thought before calling 311, security guards and local news outfits. The television trucks, he said, were first to arrive. It took several hours before Officer Anthony Planakis, the New York Police Department’s unofficial beekeeper in residence, arrived with a metal swarm box and a vacuum to collect the 17,500 or so homeless creatures.

Officer Planakis, who has been responding to swarm calls since 1995, said this had been New York’s busiest year of swarming he had ever experienced. Since mid-March, he said, he has tended to 31 jobs in the five boroughs, more than twice the number he handled last season, which is normally mid-April through July. “It’s been pretty hectic,” he said, adding that this week’s warmer temperatures could encourage more bees to take off.

This resurgence comes after several years of a puzzling decline in the honeybee population. Since 2006, beekeepers have reported that an average of 30 percent of their hives have vanished each year. The phenomenon — known as Colony Collapse Disorder — has prompted vigorous research to determine the cause, but has so far yielded inconclusive and ambiguous results.

The swarms, while anxiety-provoking, have resulted in no major injuries.

Continue reading via Honeybee Swarms Increase in N.Y.C. After Mild Spring –

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Eating on a Green Roof: New York’s Buildings Provide Food, Habitat for Wildlife – ecomagination

Eating on a Green Roof: New York’s Buildings Provide Food, Habitat for Wildlife0

Rachel Nuwer | Fri Jun 15 2012

New York’s green roofs do more than add a splash of green to the urban habitat. They also provide a crucial stopping ground and habitat for birds flying through. Researcher Dustin Partridge tracks the insect life on roofs throughout New York to see if the roofs are providing food sources for the birds.

via Eating on a Green Roof: New York’s Buildings Provide Food, Habitat for Wildlife – ecomagination.

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Mitch Waxman, Tour Guide to Decay –

Mitch Waxman, Tour Guide to Decay -

By Steven Stern

STAND on the pedestrian walkway of the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge, and you might notice a vaguely ominous red brick tower on the Queens side of the Newtown Creek, looming over the railroad tracks and asphalt plants.

If Mitch Waxman is your guide, he will identify it as the derelict smokestack of Peter Van Iderstine’s fat-rendering business, which first set up shop in 1855. But he won’t stop there.

He will expound on the archaic waste-disposal operations that once flourished on the creek, conjuring scenes of putrescent horse carcasses floating in on barges from Manhattan and docks piled with manure three stories high. The narrative will extend to Cord Meyer’s bone blackers and Conrad Wissel’s night soil wharf — the gothic names of these forgotten businesses rattled off in a distinct Brooklyn accent.

At some point, he will start in on the horrors of the M. Kalbfleisch Chemical Works, eventually making his way to the sins of Standard Oil.

If the city’s dead industries leave ghosts behind, Mr. Waxman is an adept medium.

The Newtown Creek watershed, his field of expertise, is a place where such specters are all too real. In the murky depths of the 3.8-mile estuary, the past haunts the present. Since the creek was designated a Superfund site in 2010, contractors from the Environmental Protection Agency have been dredging and testing in search of that past. The sludge acid that the Kalbfleisch factory sluiced into the water back in the 1830s is of more than academic concern.

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Bloomberg Offers $5 Million Prize for City Innovation – Arts & Lifestyle – The Atlantic Cities

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a new competition he says will inspire “breakthrough solutions” to many problems facing American cities. The “Mayors Challenge,” run by Bloomberg Philanthropies, will award a $5 million grand prize and four $1 million secondary prizes to innovative ideas that improve urban life across the country.

“American cities, where roughly 70 percent of the population is going to live in a couple decades, are really uniquely positioned to inspire and foster innovation and creativity,” Bloomberg said in a conference call this morning.

Any city with a population of 30,000 or more — there are 1,300 of them in the United States, based on the 2010 Census — is eligible to participate in the challenge. Applications must be submitted to the Mayors Challenge website under the auspices of the mayor. The submission deadline is September 14, 2012.

Twenty finalists will be named toward the end of the year, and representatives from these cities will then attend a two-day “Ideas Camp,” where various experts will provide feedback. The winners will be announced next spring, and the prize money must go toward implementation of the idea. (New York is not eligible to compete.)

The selection committee (co-chaired by Shona Brown of Google.Org and Ron Daniel, former Managing Partner at McKinsey & Company) will be looking for “the boldness, strength of planning, potential for impact, and replicability of your idea,” according to the Mayors Challenge site. Ideal entrants will not only demonstrate a novel approach to a city problem but will design a program that could be copied across the country.

Projects can address problems that pertain to social or economic matters, customer service, government efficiency and accountability, or civic engagement. The winning entry can be a “back-of-the-napkin” vision or an improvement of an existing innovation, Bloomberg said.

“A great idea is that something nobody else thought about,” he said. “It’s an idea that has impact — that not just sounds good but would change the world if it worked.”

One example of an existing idea that would be a strong contender is the 311 number that gives residents one-stop access to information about various city services. Implemented in 1999 by Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, 311 is now used in at least 70 other cities. (Baltimore had the 311 idea first, back in 1996, but it was intended only as a non-emergency crime number.)

Of course, Bloomberg himself is no stranger to innovation. While New York won’t take part in the Mayors Challenge, Bloomberg believes an idea like PlaNYC, which increased the amount of public space across the city, would also be a competitive entrant.

“The thing that’s important here is that all cities, whether they’re 30,000 people or 8.4 million people like in New York City, they fundamentally have the same problems,” Bloomberg said. “We’re all in this together. I think that’s something people tend to forget.”

via Bloomberg Offers $5 Million Prize for City Innovation – Arts & Lifestyle – The Atlantic Cities.

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Switch to cleaner fuel oils gets $100M lift | Crain’s New York Business

Mayor unveils a new fund designed to help landlords comply with a pending ban on use of heavy heating oils that generate more soot than all the city’s cars and trucks.

The city announced Wednesday that more than $100 million in financing will be available to property owners to help them convert from using heavy heating oils to cleaner fuels.Last year, the city set new rules that ban heavy heating oils, Nos. 4 and 6, that are still being used by about 10,000 buildings and are significantly contributing to air pollution. Mayor Michael Bloomberg also announced a new goal of cutting emissions of fine particulate matter, the type emitted by burning heavier heating oils, by 50% over the next two years. The conversion to cleaner fuels is expected to generate $300 million in construction activity.JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc., the Community Preservation Corp., Deutsche Bank and Hudson Valley Bank has committed $90 million, while the city’s Housing Development Corp. and the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development will offer $18 million for mixed-income residential buildings. An additional $5 million will be available to low- and moderate-income buildings that could not afford to convert through the NYC Energy Efficiency Corp.”I want to applaud key banks, energy providers and nonprofits who have entered into groundbreaking partnerships and whose commitment will save lives and improve the quality of living in New York City,” said Mayor Bloomberg, in a statement. “By phasing out heavy heating oils, we are closer to achieving our PlaNYC goal for the cleanest air of any major U.S. city.”Mr. Bloomberg, who was joined by a number of city officials, bank executives and developers, announced the new financing at Eastchester Heights Apartments, a 1,400-unit, rent-stabilized building the Bronx. The building was one of the Top 10 users of heavy oil, consuming close to 1 million gallons annually before converting to natural gas.Con Edison and National Grid, the city’s utility providers, will invest in making it easier and cheaper for buildings to convert to gas by upgrading infrastructure, the city said. Meanwhile, the city’s largest provider of heating oil, Hess Corp., will offer customers new incentives to switch to cleaner burning fuels such as ultra-low sulfur No. 2 heating oil and biodiesel.”The heating oils used in 1% of New York City buildings create more soot pollution than all the cars and trucks in the city combined. That’s why upgrading these buildings to cleaner heating fuel is the single largest step New Yorkers can take to solve local air pollution,” said Fred Krupp, president of the nonprofit Environmental Defense Fund, in a statement.The city is expanding its partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund to offer technical help to buildings that are going through a fuel conversion.

via Switch to cleaner fuel oils gets $100M lift | Crain’s New York Business.

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In New York, Bees and Their Keepers Proliferate –

In New York, Bees and Their Keepers Proliferate -

Andrew Coté, right, is tutoring Joshua Bierman, a sous-chef at the Waldorf-Astoria. The hotel recently installed six hives on its 20th floor. Slide shoe »

IT’S a busy time of year for bees. As the city’s flowering plants and trees reveal their sweet nectar, colonies go into reproductive overdrive as they build armies large enough to take in the spring flow. And the urban beekeepers tending to these exploding colonies are scurrying to keep pace.

The once-clandestine buzzing boxes on balconies and in community gardens, rooftop residences, schools and even hotels all over the city have been legal only for the past two years. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene puts the number of registered hives at 161 — up from 4 in April 2010 — but the actual number of hives may be three times as many…

via In New York, Bees and Their Keepers Proliferate –

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Can Trees Actually Deter Crime? | The Atlantic Cities

“…Well somebody tell Omar the game just changed. In the June issue of Landscape and Urban Planning, a team of environmental researchers led by Austin Troy of the University of Vermont report an inverse relationship between tree canopy and a variety of crimes in the Baltimore city and county regions. All told, Troy and colleagues conclude that “a 10% increase in tree canopy was associated with a roughly 12% decrease in crime.”

For the study, the researchers examined crime and canopy rates over a long stretch of area from inner city Baltimore to the exurbs of Baltimore County. The crime rates varied greatly across the region: those in the city were 3.5 times the national average per block, while those in the outskirts were “nearly non-existent.” (They limited their study to robberies, burglaries, thefts, and shootings, since assaults typically take place indoors.) So too did the canopy rates: some parts of the city have no greenery; some parts of the county achieve 87 percent coverage….”

via Can Trees Actually Deter Crime? – Neighborhoods – The Atlantic Cities.

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Instead of Lamenting the Urban Heat Island Effect, Why Don’t We Harness It? | The Atlantic Cities


Instead of Lamenting the Urban Heat Island Effect, Why Don’t We Harness It?


By now you are probably well familiar with the concept of the urban heat island effect, even if you can’t quite pinpoint the physics at play when your sneaker sole melts a little on a hot black street in July. Asphalt is an awesome material for storing the sun’s heat. On a steamy summer day, the surface of a road may be as hot as 140 degrees Fahrenheit. And it’ll stay that miserable long after the sun sets, pushing up the temperature of whole neighborhoods covered in this blacktop.

A special report See full coverage

A lot of work has gone into figuring out how to combat the effect. We could plant more tree cover. We could paint black surfaces white. We could construct… artificial glaciers. But this idea might top them all: Why don’t we use that heat instead of fighting it?…

via Instead of Lamenting the Urban Heat Island Effect, Why Don’t We Harness It? – Technology – The Atlantic Cities.

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Energy efficiency: New York tries to help landlords, tenants pick ‘low-hanging fruit’ |

By John J. Fialka, E&E reporter | ClimateWire: Wednesday, May 23, 2012

NEW YORK — In 2007, when Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled his plan to cut this city’s greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent compared to 2005 levels, most of his aides had only a vague idea of how the city might reach the goal by Bloomberg’s deadline, which was 2030. But they knew that a major part of the solution would have to involve buildings.

New York City has more than a million of them, including a large collection of the oldest, draftiest, most soot-spewing buildings in the United States. Unlike in most major cities, where 40 percent of carbon dioxide and other so-called greenhouse gases come from buildings, 75 percent of New York’s emissions come from heating, cooling, powering and lighting buildings…

Continued at Energy efficiency: New York tries to help landlords, tenants pick ‘low-hanging fruit’ — 05/23/2012 —

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