Date of Award

Spring 5-10-2022

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)


Environmental Studies


John Van Buren


This paper addresses the issue of greenhouse gas emissions – particularly those from buildings – within New York City and discusses ways to construct new sustainable buildings and retrofit existing buildings to both minimize greenhouse gas emissions as well as act as carbon sinks to absorb some of the emissions. Reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions is critical to NYC meeting its climate target goals, as detailed in the mayoral administrations’ PlaNYC and OneNYCenvironmental plans. This paper analyzes sustainable architecture and construction and presents various options and policies as to how to turn the city into a green city through the use of sustainable and regenerative buildings. Chapter 1 discusses quantifiable data of greenhouse gas emissions in New York City, with a focus on building and residential emissions, drawn from the GHG report by the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, and details how these emissions are harmful, both to public health as well as to ecosystem services. Chapter 2 studies the history of sustainable architecture, spanning from prehistoric times, ancient cultures, and pre-Industrial Revolution, to where we are now, as well as the architectural history of NYC. Chapter 3 explores the various forms of sustainable construction and the retrofitting of existing buildings that can be implemented in urban planning in order to lower greenhouse gas emissions. Chapter 4 examines current city policies relating to GHG emissions, particularly those that stem from buildings, as well as sustainable affordable housing. Finally, Chapter 5 draws upon the previous chapters to establish specific policy recommendations regarding sustainable buildings that can be implemented in New York City in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help the city to reach its targeted climate goals.