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Baby It's Cold Inside

Can NYC Buildings Protect Us from Severe Weather During Blackouts?

What if a Superstorm Sandy-level blackout had occurred during a winter cold spell or summer heat wave? Without electricity, indoor temperatures are dependent on whatever protection is provided by a building’s walls, windows, and roof. Only some of our existing buildings are constructed well enough to maintain their indoor temperatures without power. But to protect all New Yorkers, these resilient, high-performing buildings must become the new normal.

VIEW or DOWNLOAD the full report





Seduced by the View

A Closer Look at All-Glass Buildings

Seduced by the View looks at the question: do tenants who live and work in all-glass buildings actually take advantage of the glass by keeping their blinds open? We found that on average, 59% of the window area was covered by blinds or shades. And over 75% of buildings had more than half of their window area covered.




VIEW or DOWNLOAD the the full report (Released December 6, 2013)
READ the story on the Daily News (December 6, 2013)
READ our take on our blog




90 BY 50

NYC Can Reduce Its Carbon Footprint 90% By 2050

The greatest obstacle to a responsible approach to climate change mitigation is a sense that the problem is insoluble. Urban Green Council’s latest research report, 90 by 50, demonstrates that the emission reductions required are in fact possible using technologies that are known and in almost all cases currently available, and that the cost is manageable from a citywide perspective.

Take a look at Slate's in-depth story here.  More press here.

Missed our event 90 by 50: A Path to Deep CO2 Emissions in NYC on February 28, 2013? See the presentation here.


DOWNLOAD the full report. 
VIEW the full report online.
(Released February 14, 2013; errors in Tables 2.1, 4.2, 5.1, 5.2, 7.1 and 8.1 corrected on September 11, 2013) 


A Study of the Impact of Building Envelope Penetrations on Thermal Performance

Conducted by Steven Winter Associates for Urban Green Council, There Are Holes In Our Walls found that the average room air conditioner leaks as much air as a six square inch hole—and increases total annual heating costs by $130-$180 million in New York City alone. 

More surprisingly, the leaks account for 1% of citywide greenhouse gas emissions. 

“This study proves out what we suspected: that the air conditioners sticking out of windows and through walls across the country are costing us far more than their summer electricity bills,” said Russell Unger, Executive Director of Urban Green Council. “We have energy codes that require buildings to use efficient windows, insulation and limit air leakage. But then we go around putting holes in those insulated walls or cranking open those efficient windows to insert an AC unit with flimsy plastic extenders. Federal regulations overlook this problem, worrying only about how much energy AC units use when plugged in and operating.”

“The strength of this study is that it’s based on real world testing,” said Marc Zuluaga, Senior Engineer at Steven Winter Associates and lead researcher on the report. “We looked at 16 installations across 11 buildings and the numbers speak for themselves. We’ve shown the order of magnitude of this problem and it’s a significant one.” 

The report concludes with recommendations to policy makers and manufacturers on how to address this problem. Read the complete report for details. 

DOWNLOAD the full report. (Released April 14, 2011) 
Read the story on the New York Times. (April 14, 2011) 
Read our take on our blog. 


In 2009, Urban Green Council released the Cost of Green in NYC, a data-based study conducted in conjunction with Davis Langdon and with support from NYSERDA and Urban Green Council Members.

This report examines recent construction projects in New York City in order to determine whether or not sustainability adds to project costs, and, if so, how much.

The study found no significant difference in the cost per square foot between green and non-green buildings, based on analysis of luxury high-rise residential and commercial interior projects.

DOWNLOAD the full report.
ACCESS the full report online.