New York, New York, it’s a wonderful, energy-efficient town

With demand for electricity steadily increasing but no room for new power plants, New York City is making pioneering strides in energy efficiency; even famously eco-conscious burgs like Seattle and Portland are taking notice. New York has switched over more than 11,000 traffic lights and walk signals to light-emitting diodes that use 90 percent less energy than conventional fixtures. It’s replaced more than 180,000 energy-hogging refrigerators in public housing with much more efficient models. The city is now legally required to purchase only the most energy-efficient cars, air conditioners, and copy machines; soon, computers will join the list. And Gotham’s got one of the biggest fleets of hybrid busses in the country, as well as some of the first hybrid taxis. “Eventually what happens here starts to happen around the country,” says the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Ashok Gupta. “The market that New Yorkers provide is clearly an important factor in moving the rest of the country.”