David Bragdon reflects on NYC, his new job and data-driven sustainability

David Bragdon said New York City takes a data-driven approach to sustainability.

David Bragdon said New York City takes a data-driven approach to sustainability. 

David Bragdon, in town this week to keynote the Climate Solutions annual dinner, took a few minutes Thursday to answer questions about his new position within Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration in New York and his time as the city's sustainability chief.

Bragdon, the former president of the Oregon Metro Council, left Portland for NYC in 2010. In October the city announced that he would move to new post, overseeing the redevelopment of 10,000 acres of parkland in the city's Jamaica Bay district.

"We say it's the size of three Central Parks, three Prospect Parks and three Van Cortlandt Parks put together," Bragdon said.

Bragdon will oversee habitat restoration work and the improvement of recreation options for the property.

"It's certainly not pristine," he said. "It's not Yosemite."

Still the park's salt marshes and wetlands are an important environmental buffer and natural stormwater filter for the city, the importance of which was emphasized by the havoc wrought this fall by Superstorm Sandy.

Asked if a post-Sandy Bloomberg Administration would be more active on climate change policy, Bragdon said Mayor Bloomberg was already active — he chairs the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, a group of 40 city leaders working on climate change. If anything, Bragdon said, Sandy just turned up the volume on work that was already being done.

For example, New York has an aggressive green building program that this year started requiring commercial building owners to benchmark and disclose energy efficiency performance data. Starting next year that information will become public, with the intention of highlighting areas of improvement for better energy efficiency performance.

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