According to the Washington Post, New Jersey is “one of the fastest-warming states in the nation”, heating up at double the average of other lower 48 states.

The amount at which it has warmed is the magic (or tragic) number of 2 degrees Celsius (about 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). I’ve called it the magic number because it is the one cited by the Paris Accord to keep temperatures below that rise to prevent calamitous changes such as coral reefs disappearing and enormous sea level rise from melting ice sheets.

But New Jersey is already there, reaching that warming temperature increase between 1895 and now. Tying New Jersey is Rhode Island followed by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maine. But the gold medal winter for fastest warming state is Alaska.

The conclusion to take away from the Post’s findings which used data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is that climate change is not affecting every state, country and continent in the same way at the same pace, as geography and ecosystems vary greatly.

In the Northeast, warmer winters mean waterways don’t freeze, snow melts more quickly and insects that used to die off survive over the winter. Bacteria in waterways, such as the recent calamitous reports of blue/green algae disease and deaths, as well as, among many other effects, the greater number of rats in New York City can be traced to warmer winters.

Whether Right or Left Coast, high-density urban areas are heating up rapidly. Los Angeles has already reached the 2C (or more) increase, as has most of New York City, Nassau County (2.2C) and Suffolk County (2.3C). Not far behind is Westchester (2.0).

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Published by
Steven J. Schleider, MAI, LEED-AP BD+C
President, Metropolitan Valuation Services

Awareness of how polluted our oceans have become, of ways and products to decrease the use of single-use plastics, and innovative companies that are cleaning up the oceans with new methods, equipment and purpose, all contribute to solving a serious and complex problem. The question is: is the ecological disaster of ocean pollution already insurmountable?

We remain far from cleaning up our oceans. The decline of marine life has led to predictions of the end of the commercial fishing industry within a decade or so. At the rate we’re going, ocean pollutant plastics will exceed the amount of marine life. And there isn’t a beach in the world without microplastics.

But there are solutions, one of which has recently risen to the fore by the announcement of leading sportswear manufacturer Adidas’s introduction of a line of shoes and apparel made from recycled ocean plastic.

The collection came about via Parley for the Oceans, a think tank of creativity and science. As Parley says on its website: “We believe the power for change lies in the hands of the consumer – given we all have a choice – and the power to shape this new consumer mindset lies in the hands of the creative industries.”

Among those creatives are artists, musicians, filmmakers, architects, actors, fashion designers and scientists whom Parley’s founder Cyrill Gutsch puts on a par with creatives.

German-based Adidas is the largest sportswear manufacturer in Europe and the second-largest in the world, lending high-profile exposure to Adidas x Parley, the official collaboration that turned plastic ocean trash into athletic wear through the Parley AIR program. AIR stands for Avoid, Intercept and Redesign, a three-pronged approach to using less plastic, reducing the amount in the ocean, and reusing plastic waste.

In the case of Adidas x Parley, plastic ocean waste goes through a number of processes, ultimately producing pellets that are melted into filament. The filament was then used by Adidas to manufacture a line of athletic wear from high-performance shoes to yoga wear.

Not to make light of ocean pollution by plastics, what comes to mind with this extraordinary innovation is the 42ndof the top 100 movie quotations according to the American Film Institute.

Mr. McGuire: I want to say one word to you. Just one word.

Benjamin: Yes, sir.

Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?

Benjamin: Yes, I am.

Mr. McGuire: Plastics.

Benjamin: Exactly how do you mean?

Mr. McGuire: There’s a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?

It seems there is a future in plastics after all but one entirely different from the vision of the 1967 film “The Graduate”. Just ask Adidas which, by the latest count, is manufacturing 11 million of their new, plastic fiber athletic shoes.

To learn more about Parley for the Oceans, log on here:

To learn more about the Adidas x Parley collaboration as well as see and shop the collection, log on here:

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Published by
Steven J. Schleider, MAI, LEED-AP BD+C
President, Metropolitan Valuation Services

It’s the stuff horror movies are made of. Billions of cockroaches (the larger American kind, not the small, fast brown German roaches we all know and hate) are being held captive in a secure escape-proof facility. The air is warm. The humidity is high. The crunch, crunch, crunching is loud.

Then there’s an earth tremor. The fail-safe moat designed to capture roach escapees so fish can eat them has drained through a fissure. The fish are dead. The roaches – billions and billions of them – are invading the city. Desperate for food, they’re eating everything in their path.

And you thought The Birds was a scary movie.

But this scenario except for the earth tremor is real. It’s taking place in China where cockroaches are being cultivated in facilities to eat food waste that is piped in to the insects. Being non-discriminate eaters, they crunch away on just about everything and, after dying in about six months, are cleaned, processed and fed to farm animals as sources of protein.

If you haven’t stopped reading yet, for various provinces in China this ecological solution is working out well. It’s a burgeoning business in a country with a huge population and limited food waste landfills. Also, so far, there have been no large-scale escapes from cockroach Alcatraz.

In addition to providing nutrients for farm animals, the processed roaches are being used medicinally and for beauty products in China. For the latter, I assume the fragrance is Ewww de Roach.

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Published by
Steven J. Schleider, MAI, LEED-AP BD+C
President, Metropolitan Valuation Services

For the next two-three days, we’ll be experiencing oppressive high temperatures and humidity, the latter compliments of what was Hurricane Barry in the Gulf of Mexico.

A lot of the sweltering heat will be due to what the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association) calls a heat dome, a condition when the atmosphere traps hot ocean air like a lid.

Here are a few headlines that will not cheer you up:

The Washington Post: Widespread, oppressive and dangerous heat to roast much of the U.S. through the weekend

The New York Times: Heat Wave to Hit Two-Thirds of the U.S. Dangerously hot temperatures are predicted from Oklahoma to New England

New York Post: Heatwave expected to roast NYC this weekend

It always gets very hot around this time of year. But this heatwave will break records due to its enormous geographic reach.

I’m not going to give you tips on how to stay cool. Plenty of places have that information available. What I am going to do is touch upon a previously visited topic – heat reduction in commercial, industrial and multi-family residential buildings.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the Urban Heat Island Effect wherein high-density areas like New York City are hotter than surrounding, more rural areas due to buildings, pavements, roads – a lot of which have dark or black surfaces – and human activities.

How to mitigate those effects could fill a book but I’m only going to address one aspect by asking one question: What’s on your roof?

If it’s an urban farm or green roof, you’re already in the zone. If it’s not and you have no plans to install a green roof, I have four words for you…paint the roof white.

Not just white. You’ll want to paint it with a solar reflective white coating that will reflect up to 90% of sunlight and serve to reduce energy costs. A white roof keeps a building cooler and reduces maintenance costs by eliminating heat warping. Lowered energy use also means less pollution and a reduction in urban energy hot spots. By reducing peak demand, we also reduce the potential for blackouts.

You’ll find a lot more information at including that a reflective white roof can save up to 40% on an electric bill as well as the organization’s predictions for the future.

We’ll also make a prediction. If the White Roof Project has its way, it will make a uniquely New York pastime, already on the wane, obsolete – tanning on tar beach.

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Published by
Steven J. Schleider, MAI, LEED-AP BD+C
President, Metropolitan Valuation Services

I write about green and sustainability subjects, from whales to widgets, most often focusing on New York City and the real estate, building and design industries and how green affects property value. But with so much change going in the planet – land and sea, climate, technology, laws and restrictions, energy types and usage and a myriad of other areas – it’s interesting to explore what green jobs are geared up for the greatest growth.

If you’re looking to enhance your professional credentials, make a career segue or change, or are just starting out to find a compatible path, here are some considerations.

Using National Geographic as our primary source, their first pick for one the fastest-growing green jobs is a subject I’ve explored – urban farmers to which I’ll add beekeepers. Whether urban farms such as the Brooklyn Grange at the Navy Yard, or ecological green roof such as at the Javits Center, urban farming has become a green job specialty. You can add underground, hydroponic and river barge farms as subspecialties.

Next up according to NG are water quality technicians. Even New York City’s famous water goes through numerous quality checks to prevent pollutants from getting into it on its way from the Catskill/Delaware watershed.

With manufacturing topping the list for the majority of green jobs (about 1/6 of the U.S. total), the design and engineering of new “clean” cars that reduce air pollution and reliance on non-renewable fuels is a fast-growth area.

Next is recycling where paper especially is a success story in the U.S., followed by (no surprise here) scientists who will analyze, measure and recommend new ways to create sustainable environments.

Green builders is one of my favorite growth areas. This is about more than green roofs, carpet from recycled materials, thoughtful energy usage, new forms of energy, even net-zero in New York City. It’s also about absorbable concrete, homes made of discarded materials, structures using easily renewable bamboo, recycled steel, reclaimed wood, sheep’s wool insulation. We’re not going back to thatch roofs and peat fires, but you get the idea. Aligned with green builders are green designers who understand and appreciate the nuances of building beautifully and sustainably.

Solar scientists and technicians are a big growth area, as are new forms of energy production such as from ocean waves and combustion, as well as wind energy workers. Biofuels wind up National Geographic’s list.

Other sites added conservation biologists, environmental educators and urban planners.

I’m going to add some other growth areas including environmental marketers, writers, social media mavens, graphic designers, artists – the people who can communicate even the most complex scientific principles through words and visuals.

Lastly, I have to acknowledge my own profession which is commercial real estate appraisal, especially in light of my being a LEED-AP BD+C and the only such appraiser accredited in New York City. The tremendous growth of green buildings has led to a demand by property owners, government agencies and financial institutions for the art and science of appraising green buildings. It’s a growth career with outstanding opportunities to consider.

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Published by
Steven J. Schleider, MAI, LEED-AP BD+C
President, Metropolitan Valuation Services

If your New York wildlife experiences have been limited to pizza-loving rats, chattering squirrels and endless pigeons get ready for a surprise. To the astonishment of just about everyone, humpback whales have returned to New York waters.

Their reappearance is being credited to the Clean Water Act and other anti-pollution and protection programs. Humpback whales – notable for their distinctive hump and flippers –are among the least threatened of the whale species, although they were hunted to extinction in New York a hundred or so years ago.

Now, cleaner waters are producing nutrients that feed school fish, notably menhaden from the herring family. Rich in omega-3 oils, they swim in schools so large that whales will congregate and breach to catch their lunch or dinner. Because menhaden are at the bottom of the food chain, they’ve been called the most important fish in the sea; every other fish eats them while they eat only algae.

Most of the humpback whales can be seen east of New York City in the Rockaways or at the Jersey Shore although there have been a few who have taken a jaunt up the Hudson River to the shock of people looking out their windows to see a whale bigger than a bus – up to 60 feet long and 35-50 tons – breach the river.

If you’re interested in seeing humpbacks, Gotham Whale, a New York City whale research and advocacy group, has partnered with American Princess Cruises for four-hour whale watching and dolphin sighting cruises that leave from Riis Landing in Rockaway now through November 3rd.

Gotham Whale is the organization that has been tracking the return of whales to New York Harbor since 2010 when they spotted five. In 2018, they spotted 272.

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Published by
Steven J. Schleider, MAI, LEED-AP BD+C
President, Metropolitan Valuation Services

The first time I wrote about NYC rats was three years ago when I addressed some fascinating background about their growth – literally and figuratively – in tandem with Mayor De Blasio’s $2.9 million rat control program. He joined other recent mayors including Koch, Giuliani and Bloomberg in the fight against rats. My POV on the program then was rats may have lost some battles, but were still winning the war.

“There have been 109 mayors of New York and, it seems, nearly as many mayoral plans to snuff out the scourge. Their collective record is approximately 0-108,” said an article in The New York Times when Mayor de Blasio announced the 2016 rat attack plan.

The record is now not 1-108. In fact, according to a headline in The New York Times last week, “Rats are taking over New York City.”

The New York Times article cited a watchdog group ( that reports rat sightings have increased 38% since 2014, with sightings by health inspectors doubling in the same time period.

The reasons are manifold. The gentrification of neighborhoods is exposing and eliminating burrows, forcing rats out in the open. Milder winters are making it easier for the rats to survive and thrive. And then there’s our trash, bagged and set out overnight for pick-up that becomes a midnight feast for rats. The more our population grows and the more tourists who visit, the more trash and the more rats.

In 2017, the De Blasio administration announced a new $32 million neighborhood rat reduction plan. But after a year of reductions in the rat population, sightings are on the rise again.

What’s the solution? Perhaps there is none as every effort to eradicate them has failed. Increased litter basket pickups. Solar-powered, trash compacting bins. More rat-resistant steel cans. Dry ice to smother rats in their burrows. This being NYC, there are even rat-killing vigilantes.

And forget cats. While cats can be effective in keeping down rodent populations, a study showed that NYC rats are so large, fat and sneaky that feral cats are no match for them.

If there is an upside, it’s a fascinating one. As NYC brown rats are legion and mean, they keep other species of rats from invading their territory thus reducing the risks of new species bringing new diseases.

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Published by
Steven J. Schleider, MAI, LEED-AP BD+C
President, Metropolitan Valuation Services

We’re not talking about laundry detergents, bleach or color-preserving additives. Nor Ocean Breeze, Clean Linen or French Lavender scents or what some people consider to be irresistible Unstoppables fragrances.

We’re also not saying they aren’t damaging to the environment because they are. Unlike old-fashioned soap, most laundry products are made from chemicals. They may smell great and clean better, but they are toxic to the environment and aquatic life.

But the most recent wave of awareness when it comes to laundry is about the negative environmental impact of clothes themselves.

That fabulous, high stretch workout gear that helps keep you toned? Toxic.

That super soft, cozy, fleece hoodie you practically live in come fall? Toxic.

Jeans. Dresses. Jackets. Sweaters. Pants. Socks. Leggings. Many of them contain microfibers, tiny bits of plastic that shed from nylon and polyester. After they shed, they wind up in wastewater which often winds up in waterways where the microfibers are eaten by fish and other seafood and, eventually, by us.

One study said as many as “700,000 microfibers could be released in a single load of laundry.” Another study compared the microfiber release of top-loading and front-loading machines with the former releasing many more into the environment because of greater agitation. The International Union for Conservation of Nature estimates that “35 percent of microplastics that enter the world’s oceans comes from synthetic textiles.”

There’s a post on my page that’s titled, “What’s in Your Shrimp Scampi?” And the answer is…quite possibly fibers from your workout gear.

You can read all about it here:

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Published by
Steven J. Schleider, MAI, LEED-AP BD+C
President, Metropolitan Valuation Services

In the U.S., recycling programs have had less than stellar results. Our intentions are good as we carefully separate plastics, aluminum, paper, and glass into the recycling bin, feeling like good save-the-earth citizens. What experts call “single-stream recycling” is certainly convenient and been embraced by much of the country.

But, alas, it’s a flawed system. A single-use plastic grocery bag can ruin an entire load of recyclable plastics. A dirty diaper, metal can with food waste in it, water bottle that bursts open to dispel its contents all have the same result.

Adding to the cross-contamination problem is that when everything recyclable is in the same bag and truck it gets crushed together, also making it difficult for recycling center sensors to tell a flattened can from a magazine.

Then there’s the issue of “aspirational recycling” which is when you have an item you believe – hope? – is recyclable when it isn’t. The New York Times even published a list of these types of non-recyclables ranging from pizza boxes to take-out food containers.

The problem intensified last year when China announced it would no longer accept “foreign garbage”, leaving many U.S. municipalities at a loss, which turned out to be local landfills’ gain.

There’s no simple solution. But there are alternative solutions. Although there are success stories such as those in Australia and New Zealand, Sweden is viewed as the poster child of ultimate recycling. Here is a country so good at recycling, that it’s actually run out of garbage (which it then imported to keep its recycling centers open).

In Sweden, only 1% of its waste winds up in the landfill. With the goal of becoming a zero-waste society, the country has also adopted a “waste to energy” system where garbage is burned to generate steam that is then turned into energy to heat homes and run busses. The government encourages sustainability, reduction, repair and reuse.

As for the six degrees of separation, recyclables are sorted into color-coded categories including metal, paper, e-waste, plastic and glass. The last category is waste of two types, food (this is where you put the (Kevin) Bacon) and other waste such as vacuum cleaner bags, kitty litter, clothing and shoes.

Dividing waste into six or sometimes seven or more categories is far more time and space-consuming than single-stream recycling. But the difference in results – no more cross-contamination, near-zero waste, turning waste into energy – far surpasses any inconvenience.

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Published by
Steven J. Schleider, MAI, LEED-AP BD+C
President, Metropolitan Valuation Services

Since 1970, April 22nd has been celebrated as a day to honor environmental protection.

Today, there are vast, global issues affecting that environment including climate change, ocean pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, polar cap meltdown and disappearing and endangered species from honey bees to polar bears.

The saying “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” resonates on Earth Day because each of us can take steps to preserve our planet.

· Start with buying a reusable straw.

· Use purified filter water instead of individual plastic bottles.

· Bring a bag to the supermarket to carry your goods.

· Walk up and down stairs instead of using the elevator.

· Spend a day walking a beach and picking up litter.

· Contribute to conservation causes. (We’ve mentioned more than a few in our posts here.)

· Support community gardens and farmer’s markets.

· Volunteer at environmental organizations.

· Repair rather than replace appliances and electronics.

· Start today in honor of Earth Day.

· Repeat tomorrow and thereafter.

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Published by
Steven J. Schleider, MAI, LEED-AP BD+C
President, Metropolitan Valuation SErvices