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Case studies

Aligning policy to environmental targets

New York City was the first city to publish a strategy aligning its emission reduction targets to the Paris Agreement and the ambition of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C.

On June 2, 2017, an Executive Order committed New York City to the principles of the Paris Agreement, which seeks to limit global temperature rise to l.5 degrees Celsius. The City of New York was already taking action to reduce emissions 80 percent by 2050, for example, CreateNYC’s implementation strategy refers to the OneNYC goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050, committing to: ‘Work with cultural organisations to achieve the City’s sustainability goals’.

All agencies of City government have been asked to develop their own plans to accelerate their 80 x 50 efforts and bring NY in line with the Paris Agreement. The City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) is working with cultural organizations to achieve 80 x 50. Given that over 25 percent of DCLA’s funding to cultural organizations goes to support energy costs in City-owned cultural facilities, DCLA has created a new position that will work with its Capital Projects and Cultural Institutions units to help cultural organizations reduce their energy consumption and associated GHG emissions.

Cultural institutions have achieved significant improvements in energy management. The funding enabled the Metropolitan Museum of Art to convert over 4,000 light fixtures to LED lamps, leading to an estimated 876,829 kWh reduction in annual energy use, saving $91,230. The New York Botanical Garden reduced energy use by 21% and emissions by 53% (per sq. ft.) over the last decade, saving approximately $300,000 per year; initiatives included: upgrades to lighting and HVAC systems, clean fuel upgrades for fleet vehicles, and carbon sequestration through organic gardening practices and land management.

Image credit: Metropolitan Museum of Art rooftop installation. Courtesy NYC Department of Cultural Affairs