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NYC & Company celebrates Earth Day by recognising sustainability efforts in NYC tourism

Hotel rooftops, attractions and landmarks lead the way in the City’s green initiatives

In celebration of Earth Day, NYC & Company, New York City’s official marketing, tourism and partnership organization, has recognised several attractions, restaurants and hotels that lead in green initiatives around the City. Coinciding with yesterday’s Earth Day celebrations, NYC & Company will host a panel discussion with its membership on sustainability at Tavern on the Green in Central Park. Guest speakers from Broadway Green Alliance, Con Edison, Department of Sanitation, Empire State Building, InterContinental New York Barclay and Jacob K. Javits Convention Center will spotlight their commitment to a “green tourism” industry.

“New York City has long been at the forefront of sustainability efforts among major cities around the world,” said Fred Dixon, NYC & Company’s president and CEO. “Today’s event is more proof that our City’s tourism industry is committed to keeping our City green and preserving our planet.”



Many of the City’s hotels have incorporated green initiatives that help benefit both the visitors’ experience and the environment. The New York Hilton Midtown’s 16,000-square-foot green roof supports local farms and locally grown plants, reducing the amount of heat absorbed by the hotel and reducing cooling costs. Conrad New York’s “smart luxury” efforts are featured in its signature restaurant ATRIO, using vegetables grown from their rooftop garden. Environmentally friendly paint and LED lighting led to the hotel earning the LEED® Gold for New Construction Certification. 



During the summer and fall, the InterContinental New York Times Square harvests around 60 pounds of honey annually thanks to its two beehives that hold close to 60,000 bees. The landmark Waldorf Astoria New York, besides being famous for movie appearances, is also known for its beehives, which help produce its “Top of the Waldorf Rooftop Honey” and is even featured in some of their cocktails. 



Delegates attending meetings and conventions this year at the Javits Center will notice significant changes thanks to a $463 million renovation completed in 2014. More than 6,000 high-performance, fritted glass panels were installed, along with a 6.75-acre green roof, the second largest of its kind in the United States.



Several New York City restaurants have also taken a stand on going green. Le Bernardin, a four-star seafood restaurant, has implemented the use of biodegradable straws and tasting spoons in their kitchen, as well as a Swedish proprietary system to ultra-purify their water. At the end of the night, the restaurant donates unused fruit, bread, pastries and fish to City Harvest for distribution to shelters around NYC. Telepan, known for its crispy potato pierogies and house-smoked brook, uses ingredients found in greenmarkets located around the City. Partnering with local farmers and purveyors, Angelica’s Kitchen ensures that the ingredients used in their dishes are part of a sustainable agriculture. 



New York City’s iconic Empire State Building has also taken viable efforts to decrease its impact on the environment. The famed skyscraper saw all of its 6,514 windows refurbished, along with the installation of brand new building management controls and a computer-driven LED light system. These improvements led to a reduction of energy use by 38% and reduced carbon emissions of 105,000 metric tons.  

On May 1, the Whitney Museum of American Art in the Meatpacking District will unveil its new home, designed by architect Renzo Piano. This unique space uses reclaimed old-growth pine to cover 60,000 square feet of flooring, an advanced building management system and a three-tier shade system that controls how much light comes through its windows and skylights.  

Combining technology with sustainability, the Metropolitan Museum of Art utilizes a wireless environmental sensor network that adjusts the lighting and temperature of the rooms holding its art collection. This smart system, provided by IBM, reduces the museum’s energy costs and also extends the life of its artwork.  

In the Bronx, the 250-acre New York Botanical Garden’s 30,000 trees help clean the air and capture storm water. The Garden also switched its buildings and trams from oil to natural gas, greatly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, which showcases the art, history, technique and technology of media, reopened in 2011 as a LEED® certified building, complete with energy-efficient LED lighting that enhances the look of the façade and interiors of the museum.  

For the nature enthusiast, there are green tours and nature walks taking place throughout the City. Turnstile Tours’ Urban Ecology Tour explores the 65,000-square-foot Brooklyn Grange rooftop farm while also teaching visitors about the importance of the City’s waterways.  

Visitors to Staten Island, NYC’s greenest borough, can participate in group hike sessions and educational opportunities. Nature enthusiasts can learn from the Greenbelt Conservancy about the importance of the 2,800-acres of parklands and connected trails known as the Greenbelt. Also in Staten Island, Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden educates visitors at their environmentally-friendly two-acre Heritage Farm, all while increasing awareness about the importance of eating locally. 



NYC & Company’s board of directors has a sustainability committee led by Hervé Houdré, Regional Director of Operations & General Manager of InterContinental New York Barclay and an expert in the field of sustainability. Leaders of the committee come from all industry segments around New York City.

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