In New York, unlike many other places, the majority of carbon emissions, 70 percent, come from buildings rather than from transportation. (In some sense, asking New Yorkers to do more to combat climate change is like having your most dutiful child sweep the floor after dinner and wash the dishes; our carbon footprint is already comparatively small because of a reliance on mass transit.)
How would the city’s housing stock respond, though, to a weather “event” in the near future, before we all installed triple-glazed windows — something like Hurricane Sandy or approximating it, causing power failures — during a period not of moderate temperatures, but of extreme cold or heat? What if electrical supplies had shut down during a week like this one?
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Not long after Hurricane Sandy, the Urban Green Council, an organization focused on sustainable building, set out to study those questions and found that few buildings of the kind that populate the city would fare well. The worst possible place to live in a scenario like that one would be a single-family detached house; in other words you would not want to be living in Mill Basin in Brooklyn or many places on Staten Island or in Queens. A single-family detached house, the study found, would fall below freezing by the fourth day of a blackout.
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April 1 hour ago
The article discusses advantages of housing types. And yes the Brooklyn row house seams to fair well as a low energy user that can survive…
Richard 10 hours ago
It’s time for NYC to invest in euthanasia hospitals. It’s the only humane thing left to do.
mike 10 hours ago
The fact our mayor believes we should spend untold money reducing NYs carbon footprint, which literally is irrelevant in terms of impact to…
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But the luxury glass towers proliferating in Manhattan would also do terribly — reaching just slightly above freezing by the fourth day. During a summer blackout, glass towers, because of the intensity with which glass conducts heat, would be rough places to live; indoor temperature would get into the high 80s and beyond by Day 3. (Of course, it is the ultimate science fiction to imagine that anyone living in a $50 million apartment with wall-to-wall views would be in New York in August in the first place.)
In both cold and hot conditions, the study found, a rowhouse would be the best place to be. Being attached to other houses limits its exposure and keeps it better insulated. During a winter blackout, the temperature in a townhouse would still be in the low 40s after a week. As if the Brooklyn brownstone needed more to make it a precious commodity, this should be reason enough. And what this all implies is that the poor are right to resent the affluent, but might feel sorry for the exceedingly rich.