New York City is accelerating its push to get cleaner fuel into the city's buildings. Alex Goldmark explains the challenge, "Just one percent of buildings in New York still burn heavy forms of heating oil, but those 10,000 polluters spew more soot than all the vehicle traffic in the whole city." This heavy and cheap oil, called Number 6, is estimated to cause 3,000 deaths each year.
To help these buildings convert to cleaner heating fuels, the city launched NYC Clean Heat, a program that provides information about technical help, financial help, and regulations. The conversion process will be expensive for each building, but the city wants to alleviate some of the financial pressure.
"The city partnered with banks, real estate developers and nonprofit groups to structure plans to fund $100 million in boiler conversions and offer other resources like technical consulting to help the process along. ‘By phasing out heavy heating oils, we are closer to achieving our PlaNYC goal for the cleanest air of any major U.S. city,' said Mayor Bloomberg as he touted a new target to reduce soot pollution by 50 percent by 2013, something he estimates will save 120 lives and preventing 300 asthma-related hospital visits."
According to Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, "Upgrading these buildings to cleaner heating fuel is the single largest step New Yorkers can take to solve local air pollution."