New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) announced on April 28 that green policies at state agencies have saved taxpayers $19.6 million in the first five years of his administration. In addition, the state has introduced green purchasing specifications during Cuomo’s term in office.
A new report, Greening New York State: Fifth Progress Report on State Green Procurement and Agency Sustainability (FY 2015-2016), released by the Office of General Services found that state agencies are using green cleaning products, capturing and reusing rainwater, generating renewable energy, and recycling and composting.
Green Agency Savings
Specifically, New York State agency achievements include:
- Generating 67 million kWh of energy through on-site renewable energy installations;
- Completing the 693-kW solar array at Robert Moses State Park in Suffolk County, which will generate as much electricity as the park consumes, making it the first-ever energy-neutral state park in the United States;
- Reducing by 35 percent the amount of copy paper purchased by state agencies since 2011;
- Increasing recycling of construction and demolition debris to 78 percent by the Metropolitan Transit Authority and Department of Transportation; to 78 percent;
- Increasing the composting of organic material, up 34 percent in FY 15-16 with a 20 percent increase in food scrap composting; and
- Increasing the purchase of 100 percent, post-consumer recycled content copy paper, which reached 57 percent of all copy paper in FY 2015-2016, an increase of 35 percent from FY 2008-2009.
Green Purchasing Specifications
In addition, the state finalized new green purchasing specifications that will guide future purchasing to reduce environmental impact and exposure to toxic chemicals. Specifications include furniture, lighting, and state-funded travel.
Two specifications, food containers and batteries, have been tentatively approved and released for public comment. The food container specification will make New York the first state in the nation to eliminate the purchase of food containers manufactured with perfluorinated chemicals and polystyrene.
In April, OGS received an EPEAT award for excellence in sustainable electronics procurement from the Green Electronics Council for requiring desktop, notebook, and tablet computers purchased through the state’s aggregate buy program to meet highly protective environmental criteria.
The state also rolled out the new GreenNY website, which the digital team at the Office of General Services helped develop to create a one-stop source for information on green procurement and sustainable operation.
“New York is …adopting green programs to reduce the environmental impact of government agencies while, at the same time, saving money for taxpayers,” Governor Cuomo said. ”
Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos commented, “State agencies continue to extend their commitment to green practices and embrace new initiatives, such as the composting of food waste. Governor Cuomo’s unwavering dedication to protecting public health and the environment continues to spur innovation and efficiency at state agencies.”