This Sunday, The New York Times ran a package of Business articles focused on “The Business of Green.” (If previous packages are any indication, the links will remain active longer than the standard week.)
Hearteningly for this Second City resident, Keith Schneider’s banner headline — To Revitalize a City, Try Spreading Some Mulch — spotlights Mayor Richard M. Daley’s efforts to improve the city’s quality of life through greening initiatives. While many local wags have ridiculed the Daley as a mere gardener, the article calls new street trees and spiffy parks an “economic development strategy” central to the city’s general economic resurgence:
[M]ulch is an organic metaphor, tying together the various pieces of Chicago’s novel development strategy, praised by the Sierra Club and the Chamber of Commerce alike. By wrapping its arms and famous big shoulders around its Latin motto — Urbs in Horto (City in a Garden) — Chicago has become a global model for how a metropolis can pursue environmental goals to achieve economic success.
Having moved here shortly after the 1996 Democratic National Committee convention that landscape entrepreneur Christy Webber says Daley’s greening strategy dates back to, I can’t really speak to how big of a sea change these policies have proven. And as much as the article over-sells Chicago’s strengths (e.g., tying population growth caused by Latino immigration to downtown flowerbeds, ignoring the transit improvements that were canceled to pay down park bonds), it’s always nice to have our humble Midwestern achievements noticed east of the Hudson River.
Speaking of the Hudson, Robin Pogrebin reports on efforts by New York’s Battery Park City Authority to complete its decades-long, 92-acre waterfront development to exacting environmental standards. One new apartment tower will even use heat+power cogeneration — a remarkable step forward in efficient, distributed energy generation:
The Verdesian runs on a natural-gas microturbine that creates electricity, which helps power the building. The heat given off in this process is used to create the hot water. Mr. Albanese said this amounted to overall efficiency of 80 to 85 percent for the building. A typical power plant — which burns fossil fuels like oil, gas or coal — is about 30 percent efficient.
The story’s accompanying video shows Pogrebin drinking from the in-house sewage treatment plant in the Solaire, a LEED-NC Gold rated apartment tower that opened in 2003.
Other articles in the package report on large corporations voluntarily profiting from the green bandwagon, sometimes with help from enviro critics; emissions trading in the U.S. and Europe; a sort-of UL Labs for foodservice equipment efficiency (one restauranteur reports a one-week payback time for new dishwashing faucet nozzles); potential downsides to new technological fixes; eco-advertising and counteracting greenwashing with certification; organic pork; wind energy; reducing and recycling toxic e-waste; and greening government purchasing.