A City Council bill debated Wednesday got officials and other interest groups fired up about going green. The bill, sponsored by Donovan Richards Jr. of Queens, proposes capping internal and external lighting in about 40,000 commercial buildings at night. The benefits are many: cutting down light pollution, conserving energy, saving money on electricity. But the cons are compelling, too. What would the city's iconic skyline look like if it were much, much dimmer? Would it change the way New Yorkers see their own city, or the way the rest of the world sees us?
If the bill were to pass, major visible icons like the Empire State and the Chrysler Building"a significant part of the city's skyline" would be exceptions to the rule. An interesting note from the Times, though, which could change the wide reach of the bill:
The bill does exempt buildings "where individuals are inside" at night, which would seem to apply to the many large office buildings that maintain a limited security presence or bring in cleaners overnight. Buildings that don't comply could get fined $1,000.
Critics brought up arguments related to street and storefront safety given darker hues up above, and pro-development group REBNY said that perhaps such a drastic measure was unnecessary given that many buildings are already more energy-efficient due to changes in code.
In a way, New York in this case is mirroring France, which introduced similar measures and saw a 9 percent reduction in energy use. A step for the City of Lights, to be sure, but what about the Big Apple? The meeting did not end in a vote, so expect more discussion soon.
· New York Plan to Save Energy May Mean a Dimmer Skyline [NYT]
· It Ain't Easy Being Green archive [Curbed]