Category Archives: Environment

Dayton Kingery on Staying Active While Staying Safe

The health regulations and recommendations to curb the spread of COVID-19 are constantly changing. But one message has remained consistent throughout: remaining physically active is important for the long-term health of both the body and mind.

Dayton Kingery, a Connecticut native and fitness enthusiast, says that the real estate market in his area is busier than ever. “People are looking for safe ways to be outdoors and be active. Nobody wants to be cooped up in their small city apartment. They want to escape the virus and the deserted city streets. Here we have more space and plenty of outdoor venues for exercise and exploration.”

Dayton Kingery- deserted city streets
Dayton Kingery says city dwellers are heading toward the suburbs in search of safety and space

People from across New York, who own or rent summer properties in Connecticut, say that riding out the lockdown orders, social distancing regulations, and work-from-home expectations is much easier in less densely populated areas. “Bike riding has always been a popular form of transportation in the city,” Kingery says, “but now it has become a form of relaxation and self-care.”

Dayton Kingery bike trails
Dayton Kingery recommends cycling as a safe and fun activity

Longtime Connecticut residents and other city “escapees” should all consider taking up a new hobby or activity; these pursuits are important ways to combat loneliness, remain mindful, and stay busy. Kingery recommends enjoying the many hiking trails, walking paths, and nature reserves across the state and taking in as much of the great outdoors as possible.

Dayton Kingery- nature trails
Exploring local parks and being outdoors is key to wellness, according to Kingery

Today: Ban Against Pollution

Today marks the beginning of a beautiful friendship.  A ban has been implemented – that takes effect today – on the use of plastic throwaway bags in New York.  And with any luck we will see the state working hard to beautify the environment once again.

With this new law, business owners in New York will be barred from using thin plastic bags which for many years have been blocking landfills, gotten stuck in trees and gathered in reservoirs.  Only single use paper bags will be permitted but with a 5cents fee.

Environmentalists are concerned that business owners will try to find a loophole and they’ll offer out bags that are thick enough to be considered “multiple use bags” which would just augment the problem.  As one former US Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Judith Enck pointed out:

 “It is a giant loophole which they should close in the future. It’s not good for the environment if you go from thinner plastic bags to thicker plastic bags.”

Not all bags are being outlawed.  Those that can be washed, used at least 125 times, can carry the weight of at least 22 pounds over 175 feet and have an attached non-stretchable strap, will still be permitted.

Electric Cargo Bikes Arrive in NYC

For years there has been a problem with delivery trucks in NYC.  As it is New York’s traffic situation is a total disaster, a nuisance to society and an environmental embarrassment.   But thanks to the introduction of electric cargo bikes, this problem – at least in part – could be on its way to a solution.

A program that has been introduced by New York City is going to start with up to 100 pedal-assisted cargo bikes.  They will be used by delivery firms such as Amazon, DHL and UPS and will be able to park – without a fee – in commercial loading areas.

According to Transportation Commissioner of New York, Polly Trottenberg it seems New York is a bit behind on this trend.  She said:

“Around the world, we have seen how freight companies use cargo bikes to move goods around dense urban neighborhoods more efficiently,”

adding that by using these bikes instead of trucks, the safety of the roads would be enhanced as well.   And when it comes to the environment, it’s a no-brainer.  As Vice President for Specialty Fulfillment at Amazon, Rebecca Gansert said, this is part of the city’s attempt to reduce carbon emissions to zero by the year 2040.

In another attempt to reduce carbon emissions (but potentially create other problems), the SameDay Bot has been introduced to the city – a six-wheeled robot that delivers packages straight to your door. Roxo was seen on a test run in New York but have been met with some angst amongst New Yorkers. 

de Blasio’s Deputy Press Secretary Will Baskin-Gershwitz argued:

“FedEx’s robots wouldn’t just undercut the jobs of hardworking New Yorkers — they would be a danger on our crowded street…we’re prepared to take further steps if FedEx isn’t willing to get them off our streets.”

So on the one hand there is a huge fight for environmental enhancement in New York but on the other hand how will this impact job creation and a nuisance to the city?

NY & Clean Transportation

Clean transportation has become a priority in NY. Several programs encourage clean transportation:

  • Evolve NY is a $250 million electric vehicle expansion program that will help accelerate NY’s goal to launch 10,000 electronic vehicle charging stations by 2021.
  • The Drive Clean Rebate Program gives NY residents a rebate of approximately $2,000 for the purchase of a new hybrid or electric car from participating car dealers
  • Other incentives include discounts on toll charges for drivers who carpool using NY EZ Pass, also known as the Carpool or Green Pass Plan
  • As an alternative to driving, consumers are encouraged to bike to work. In NYC, Citibike has 12,000 rental bikes available in 60 neighborhoods.

By committing to change, clean transportation can become a reality.

Environmental Enhancement

The clean energy movement in New York is buzzing.  The state is set to put $250 million toward increasing the amount of Electric Vehicles (EV) on the road. In collaboration with the New York Power Authority, EVolveNY will be the guiding force behind the dispensation of funds.  Governor Cuomo said:

“New York has an incredible opportunity to move the needle on greenhouse gas reduction and get more electronic vehicles on the road by building more charging stations to ensure New Yorkers can drive them from one end of the state to the other. With the NYPA EVolve NY initiative, we are making a significant move to make driving an electric car a viable choice and an affordable option that can make significant strides in cleaning the air for all New Yorkers.”

Electrification is being supported in other US states as well. For example, $1.3 billion is being spread over California, New Jersey and New York to invest into changing stations and other expenses connected to electrification.

Please May I Be Excused?

Absolutely if you’re privy to the newly-renovated Manhattan public bathrooms.  Free of charge, there are three stalls for women and two for men (with three urinals as well) and have a 310 square feet division.  Located behind the New York Public Library, they feature artwork, classical music, fresh flowers and imported tiles.

The renovation – privately funded by the not-for-profit Bryant Park Corporation – has been (not surprisingly) extremely well-received by tourists and residents alike who are thrilled with the renovated facilities.  In addition to Bryant, Toto (Japan’s Number 1 sanitary ceramics manufacturer) and Brill Hygienic Products Inc. (America’s sanitary toilets and clean toilet seats manufacturing and distributing company) donated to the cause.

Bryant Park executive director Dan Biederman was likely to have been pleased with the final product, as he said: “ we strive for perfection and only settle for excellence.”  Clearly they’ve achieved their goals!

A few years ago, Bryant Park itself underwent an overhaul, given its propensity to urban decay and crime.

Airing Out New York Offices

office-windowMany studies have been undertaken – and even college courses developed – to ascertain the best way of enhancing productivity in the office.  But it seems that one particular concept has been completely overlooked…and it is free…the air! In a study undertaken by the Harvard School of Public Health, indoor air quality was found to have a significant impact on one’s cognitive abilities.  Those who participated in the study who had increased ventilation and lower carbon dioxide and VOC numbers were shown to display “higher cognitive scores.”  Strangely enough, according to the study’s lead author – Joseph Allen – it seems that “we’ve been ignoring the 90%. We spend 90% of our time indoors yet indoor environmental quality and its impact on health… are often an afterthought.”  Of course this should be the first clue on how to increase productivity at work.

And it seems it is.  Given this result – and the fact that projected need for new office space in Manhattan to reach a staggering 92 million square feet in the next two-and-a-half decades, it seems like New York City office building developers are sitting up and taking note. It also has been found that making these office improvements does not have to warrant a financial burden.  In a recent Crain’s New York article written by Scott Frank, a few inexpensive suggestions were put forward.  These included:

  1. Design ventilation rates should be elevated to 40 cubic feet per person.
  2. Demand-control ventilation strategies should be employed to adjust how much ventilation air is delivered to a space according to how many people are there at the time along with indoor pollutant levels (as detected by sensing devices)
  3. Reduce VOCs by bolstering tenant building standards to include low-emissions
  4. Break down VOCs with air handlers that have bipolar ionization technology
  5. Consider using dedicated outside air systems in existing buildings.

Finally, another way to increase air is by encouraging employees to get out of the office once in a while.  Being tied to one’s desk 9+ hours each day is a sure-fire way to increase the possibility of a drop in both mental and physical wellbeing.

New York Green Festival

The New York Green Festival®,  took place May 5th to 7th.  Thousands of sustainable living experts, green business entrepreneurs and environmental-loving individuals joined together to check out new, environment-friendly products and services. The festival is America’s largest and longest-running sustainability and green living event (Other venues where it will be taking place include Washington, LA, San Francisco, and Portland).

Employees and volunteers at the Festival are always seeking to increase sustainability with the goal of “a truly zero waste event, where consumers can be assured that companies are committed to environmental sustainability.”

New York’s Zero Waste Challenge

wasteThe city of New York is taking steps to make its businesses more environmentally-friendly. By June, over 30 businesses in the city are committing to half the trash they send to landfills.  This Zero Waste Challenge forms part of the mayor’s goal to decrease NYC’s waste output by 90% by the year 2030.  De Blasio plans on doing this through: compositing, reduced packaging and recycling.

But the city is not just requiring businesses to be a part of this effort.  The man in the street can take part as well.  The city is seeking to make composting and recycling very accessible.  Already one can compost at home, become part of NYC’s Sanitation’s Organics Collection Pilot Program, take food and scraps to a residential drop off site, or to participating Greenmarkets which will take household food scraps to one of the compost sites for you.  They will then be converted into a fertile soil amendment and be used for local urban farming and gardening projects.

Truth is, this isn’t New York’s first initiative with recycling by any means.  Take Just Water run by Grace Jeon (who thinks tap water is the best kind of water and Just Water a close second), since consumers still prefer the convenience of bottled water, her company is “making the best out of a bad situation.” Why? Because the labeling comes from Forest Stewardship Council-certified trees. The fully-recyclable bottles, are made out of 53 percent paper (with the rest being made from plastic and a minimal amount of aluminum).  And the firm’s most recent initiative was its new bottle that has a portion made from plant-based plastic derived from sugar cane. Overall, the bottle is way less harmful than standard bottles to the environment and creates less carbon emissions than energy-intensive plastic.