Walking through Times Square at night, it’s hard to be unaware of the energy consumption of just those few blocks.  Signs and windows lit so bright, you could swear it was the daytime. Looking south out of my 12-story window and only seeing yellow rectangles floating orthogonally in the distance, describing the veiled outline of hundreds of buildings in which thousands of families are currently consuming energy. Growing up, I was always aware of the amount of energy consumed in New York City; however, it would be the blackout of 2003, during which, I began to understand the rapacious rate in which the residents devoured power. Instead of floating yellow rectangles indicating the jungle of buildings past my window, I could only distinguish black spires of the skyline piercing the navy sky. The floating rectangles had fallen to the ground in the form of blurred automobile lights fearfully navigating the once luminous city streets. The city was darkness against the night sky and all you could see was the moon.

Once the city regained power it swiftly returned to its old ways, radiating a luminous blanket that rested gently over the skyline, proving true New York’s reputation of refusing to sleep. As a budding fifth grader, these few August days left quite the impression on my young life, as I realized the depth to which we rely on energy. In school we addressed the recent event, talking about energy, where it came from, how we used it, the, and the negative effects our particular island had on the rest of the world. In rudimentary terms, we also discussed the ozone layer and the future of our world if we continued our current energy consumption. Corrupted by knowledge, the glowing rectangles outside my window transformed from tiny hints of life outside my apartment, to fiery eyes threatening to incinerate the natural resources and power that humans were so greedily expending.

My sudden awareness of energy consumption, although dramatized, was an important realization. And although it took a backseat to almost everything else in my seemingly complicated middle school life, it was that event that molded my interest in environmental design. New York City although constantly consuming energy, is producing many LEED projects and other energy aware building projects. These projects, although they cannot combat the power wasted in past years, can help to change the future trends of power consumption in New York City.

new York blackout

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 10.49.16 AMSources: http://davidfriend.net/2007/01/a_blackouts_echoes.php