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7. Sustainability

DOT's Progress in 2017

DOT continues to pursue its sustainability initiatives with the goal of helping the City reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050. The agency is focused in two main areas: one, reducing DOT’s own energy footprint, and two, expanding and improving sustainable travel options for all New Yorkers. For a complete list of the agency’s progress on Sustainability Initiatives, refer to

LED Street Lights

In the largest such project in the country, DOT is currently retrofitting all of New York City's street lights with energy-efficient LEDs. The new lighting will reduce annual energy demand and maintenance cost, helping the agency to both meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals and save money. Additionally, the LEDs provide a higher quality light that enables better color contrast, which makes pedestrians and cyclists more visible at night. The project is scheduled for completion in May 2019. 

Hunts Point Clean Truck Program

DOT’s Hunts Point Clean Truck Program is a federally-funded program that provides incentives to truck owners in the Hunts Point area to replace their older, dirtier trucks with cleaner, new models. In its first round of funding, DOT worked with trucking companies to replace or upgrade 500 trucks. In the past year, the agency received funding to replace or upgrade 100 additional trucks. The Clean Truck Program is making a noticeable impact on emissions in Hunts Point while providing significant air quality and health benefits over a much larger area in which the trucks operate. Replacement trucks in the program are on average 90 percent cleaner for nitrogen oxides (NOx) and 97 percent cleaner for particulate matter (PM2.5). If funding permits, DOT plans to expand the program to other Industrial Business Zones (IBZs) across the five boroughs. In December 2017, the program was recognized with a C40 Cities Mobility award. 

A map showing where trucks that participate in the Hunts Point Clean Truck Program travel

Electric Vehicle Charging

A photo of an electric vehicle being charged

On Earth Day 2017, Mayor Bill de Blasio set a target of making 20 percent of new vehicle registrations in NYC electric by 2025. Increasing the number of electric vehicles (EVs) is crucial to the City’s efforts to improve air quality and public health and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. To make this happen, however, the City will need to work with private sector partners to dramatically expand the availability of electric vehicle charging stations across the five boroughs.

DOT is advancing on several fronts. In 2017, the agency announced it will partner with Con Edison to install at least 100 level 2 charging stations at curbside locations throughout the city. Level 2 chargers at the curb will allow EV owners to power up their vehicles while parked. The City will also invest $20 million to foster the creation of a network of 50 fast charging stations by 2020. Direct current (DC) fast chargers can provide an 80 percent charge to an EV in about 30 minutes.

Go Smart

DOT also has a program to encourage New Yorkers to use sustainable transportation. The agency’s Go Smart program helps New Yorkers make better local travel choices by providing information and support on walking, biking, carpooling, and taking transit. Go Smart originally launched in Middle Village, Queens and has now rolled out in Stapleton, Staten Island. With significant commercial and residential development taking place on Staten Island’s North Shore, DOT is using its Go Smart program as a way to mitigate congestion.

Over the course of the program, DOT has distributed information on sustainable transportation options to thousands of New Yorkers, mailed out more than 800 personalized travel kits, and partnered with over 30 local businesses to provide incentives and rewards to participants who log their Go Smart trips.

Go Smart marketing material

2016 Overview

Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged in OneNYC to make New York City the most sustainable big city in the world and a global leader in the fight against climate change. The City is committed to reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 80 percent by 2050 (80 x 50) and ensuring New York has the cleanest air of any large U.S. city. The City has been a strong voice for collective global action on climate change, supporting the adoption of the Paris Agreement at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21).  In June 2015, the Mayor joined Pope Francis and other global city leaders at the Vatican and committed to reducing New York City’s GHG emissions 40 percent by 2030—an interim target on the path to 80 x 50.






New York City’s 80 x 50 Plan

New York City, built primarily on islands and with 520 miles of shoreline, is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, including rising sea levels, extreme storms, and heat waves. New York City’s transportation sector accounts for 22 percent of the City’s total greenhouse gas emissions, with fossil fuels burned in passenger cars contributing 14 percent of the citywide total and trucks an additional four percent. Most motor vehicles also emit particulates and other air pollutants that also contribute to global warming, as well as to asthma and premature mortality.

To combat these threats, the City is committed to reducing GHG emissions from the transportation sector through several approaches: encouraging travel by low carbon modes; minimizing congestion and total miles driven through technology, market signals, and new mobility service models; transitioning to more efficient cars and trucks running on cleaner energy sources; and enhancing the efficiency of freight and traffic. In the fall of 2016, the City will release a more detailed 80 x 50 action plan focusing on sectors with the highest impact, including transportation.

This graph shows the NYC Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Sector in 2014. Stationary Energy, or energy used by buildings, is the major source of GHGs with 73% of the total emissions. Transportation comprises 22% of the total emissions, and waste landfills make up the remaining 5% of GHG emissions.
City of New York Inventory of New York City’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions, April 2016, by Cventure LLC, Cathy Pasion, Mikael Amar, and Yun Zhou, Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, New York, 2016.

DOT’s Hunts Point Clean Trucks Program

Photo of a truck that runs on compressed natural gas

Tailpipe emissions from trucks are a significant issue in New York City, especially in communities—some of them low-income—that experience a disproportionate level of trucking activity. In 2012, DOT launched the Hunts Point Clean Trucks Program (CTP) to convert older dirtier trucks serving the Hunts Point produce market in the South Bronx to newer cleaner models. Through the $20 million program, trucking fleets were eligible for incentives to retrofit their vehicles or for a discount on the purchase of a new cleaner truck. To date, the project has taken 450 older trucks off the road and led to six engine retrofits and the scrapping of 24 old trucks.

The results are striking. The newer trucks release 97 percent less particulate matter (PM) and 90 percent fewer nitrogen oxides—both pollutants harmful to human health. And because the trucks are more fuel efficient and burn less fuel, greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced by 4,600 tons per year. Moving forward, DOT hopes to secure funding to replace an additional 100 trucks at Hunts Point, as well as to expand the program to additional neighborhoods that shoulder a disproportionate share of trucking activity.  

DOT is helping the City reach its sustainability goals by working to provide safe, functional, and convenient low-carbon transportation choices and by reducing the agency’s own energy footprint.
Increase travel by walking, biking, and bus transit to reduce air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and the risk of climate change.
Reduce emissions contributing to climate change that are generated by agency operations.
Building on current efforts, expand the agency’s role in planning and implementing green infrastructure across the City to protect water quality.

Low Carbon Modes

Low Carbon Modes icon

Encourage walking, biking, and transit

To achieve a shift from auto travel to low-carbon modes, the City must provide safe, convenient, and connected bike and pedestrian networks as well as work with the MTA to improve bus service and pedestrian and bicycle access to transit. (See Chapter 3: Mobility for more information about DOT’s initiatives in this arena). 

Expand the Go Smart NYC program

Go Smart NYC is DOT’s neighborhood-based travel choice resource program. Go Smart provides New Yorkers with information on their travel options and gives them incentives to use low-carbon modes like walking, biking, and transit. After launching in Queens Community District 5 in 2015, DOT plans to expand the program to select Brooklyn neighborhoods in 2016 and 2017.


Green Infrastructure

Green Infrastructure icon

Continue DOT’s partnership with the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to install green infrastructure (GI) on streets citywide

DOT will continue to partner with DEP in the siting of right-of-way bioswales, stormwater greenstreets, and other green infrastructure designs in City streets, sidewalks, plazas, and greenways. GI diverts storm water runoff from the sewer system and helps prevent the discharge of sewage into our rivers and streams. We will also begin working with DEP on strategies to clean storm water runoff. 


Greening Agency Operations

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Install energy efficient street lights and signals

Well-lit streets are vital to pedestrian and vehicle safety. DOT is replacing its high-pressure sodium street lights with modern LEDs that use 80 percent less energy. The agency has converted over 100,000 of its streetlights thus far and plans to convert our remaining 150,000 lights by 2018. All of the signals in DOT’s 12,000 signalized intersections have already been converted to LED.  

Green DOT’s street resurfacing operations

The agency is a national leader in the use of recycled asphalt pavement (RAP)—our asphalt now contains 40 percent RAP. By using RAP, the City saves on new material and reduces the environmental costs associated with transport and disposal of milled asphalt. DOT has also begun testing warm mix asphalt, which requires less energy to make than traditional asphalt.   

Green DOT’s Staten Island Ferry (SIF) operations

In late 2016, DOT will begin converting all light fixtures in its ferry terminals to LEDs. In addition, the agency is planning to install shore power at its maintenance facility, so our ferries do not need to run their engines while being serviced. Finally, the agency is procuring three new ferry boats with cleaner EPA Tier 4 engines. These vessels will go into service in 2020 and 2021.



Emissions from Private Truck Fleets

Greening Agency Operations icon

Reduce emissions from private truck fleets in priority communities

The City and DOT are working to secure federal funding to replace another 100 trucks as part of the Hunts Point Clean Truck initiative (see the box above). DOT is also seeking to expand the program to other priority communities with high levels of truck activity.  


Green Infrastructure

Greening Agency Operations icon

Test permeable pavement and concrete

In accordance with legislation passed by the City Council as part of Local Law 80 of 2013, DOT will test the effectiveness of permeable asphalt pavement and permeable concrete sidewalks. These surfaces allow the ground below the pavement or sidewalk to absorb a portion of storm water, reducing runoff into the sewer system. DOT will monitor the impact of these surfaces, determine maintenance needs, and consider a broader application of these materials.          

Develop intra-agency green infrastructure projects

DOT will develop green infrastructure elements within agency projects that will reduce the quantity of storm water runoff and help the City meet state and federal requirements for Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) areas, which have separate storm sewer and sanitary sewers.


Greening Agency Operations

Greening Agency Operations icon

Reduce emissions from the DOT vehicle fleet

As part of its NYC Clean Fleet initiative, the City is creating the largest municipal electrical vehicle fleet in the United States. DOT current operates 639 sedans, of which 53 are plug-in hybrids or fully electric vehicles. The agency plans to replace 50 percent of the sedans retired each year with plug-in hybrids or fully electric vehicles. The City is also exploring strategies to green the agency’s light and heavy-duty truck fleets.    

Shrink the environmental footprint and maximize energy efficiency of DOT’s 68 facilities

As part of its comprehensive facilities assessment (see Chapter 8: Organizational Excellence), DOT will conduct an energy audit, which will identify energy conservation measures for its facilities. This effort is part of the City’s 80 x 50 initiative. Conservation measures may include LED lighting, HVAC system upgrades, and solar panels, and will be implemented as energy efficiencies are identified.