Hurray for the Big Green Apple

green apple_450x300This year’s Excellence in Environmental Planning goes to… New York City’s Planning Department!

The American Planning Association recently honored the Big Apple and its Zone Green Initiative, which dramatically changed the city’s zoning regulations to foster green building practices. The award honors initiatives that create environmentally-friendly communities, improvements in environmental quality, and reductions in the impact construction has on the environment.

This initiative applies not only residential building, but also to commercial development. And it includes some of the most comprehensive modifications to local zoning laws in the country.

One of the biggest achievements of Zone Green is the reduction of red tape. For example, it removes prohibitions and penalties that have prevented buildings from such things as adding insulation, solar panels, and roof-top gardens. All of the changes are in concert with or even outside of LEED, and they make green practices a code requirement rather than an extra.

This is significant for the AV technology industry not only because of what we can bring to the table for cities like New York and the companies that operate there, but also because it’s a catalyst for success in sustainable building in other cities across the country. Much like the fashion industry, where what’s hot today in NYC is on the shelves of department stores nationwide tomorrow, I predict this will kick off a race to create similar or better zoning standards nationwide.

If you’re interested in sustainable practices or smart buildings in general, read about what New York City is doing. Granted, some of this doesn’t directly apply to AV, but a movement this big, with a proponent as big as the Big Apple, will bring along with it everyone working in the built environment.

What zoning changes are you seeing in your neck of the country to promote sustainability? And how might the AV industry benefit or get involved?

About Raymond Kent

Raymond Kent is Managing Principal of Sustainable Technologies Group LLC , which provides consulting services in audiovisual, acoustics, lighting, theater technical, IT and intelligent building technology for the performing and cultural arts, healthcare, higher education and corporate markets. He is involved with the InfoComm Green AV Task Force and is co-author of the Sustainable Technology Environments Program (STEP™) rating system. Raymond currently is Co-Chair of the STEP Foundation’s Technical Task Force and serves as the InfoComm liaison to the United States Institute for Theater Technology (USITT).

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