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

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

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

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

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

With climate change, melting glaciers, flooding becoming commonplace and more frequent, intense weather events (think Superstorm Sandy), urban centers of the future may not be on the waterfront, as most of the world’s megacities now are, but, instead, in the water. Floating.

That was the concept of a dramatic reveal earlier this month when UN-Habitat, MIT Center for Ocean Engineering and the Explorers Club were among those invited by the U.N. to see and hear about OCEANIX and Blake Ingels Group’s (known as BIG) futuristic vision for floating cities anchored in shallow water.

The illustration shows hexagonal-shaped concrete structures linked via walkways. According to Collins Chen, CEO of OCEANIX, six floating platforms, each five acres, can accommodate 5,000 people in a floating village; a floating city of 10,000 would combine five of the villages.

The structures would be built from sustainable forests. There would be wind and solar power, greenhouses, vertical and underwater farms (oysters, clams, mussels, scallops) and desalination for drinkable water. There would be shared recreational green space, spiritual and community centers. The floating cities would be “flood-proof, earthquake-proof, and tsunami-proof,” according to Chen whose start-up company is combining its expertise with BIG.

The concept is being taken seriously based on the U.N.’s endorsement as well as a positive response from notable experts in climate change and sustainability.

Next will come the prototype. Right now, it all seems very utopian. No graffiti. Or true grit. What about crime and punishment? Police and fire departments. On-site medical treatment. Trash. Restaurants. Shopping. With affordability as a goal, will the floating structures be cost-feasible to build?

Stay tuned to see (paraphrasing Rod Serling) whether we will be making a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are of imagination. That’s the signpost up ahead. Your next stop…floating cities.

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PHOTO: OCEANIX – BIG (Blake Ingels Group)

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

Do you glaze over during scientific explanations? Feel sleepy when steeped in statistics? Find data to be deadening? Many of us do. Which is why more than 300 artists worldwide are donating their time and talent to illustrate how we can save our oceans by painting marine life murals – so far over 300 – across the globe. The murals take difficult-to-convey scientific information and turn it into artwork.

ARTivism is the brainchild of the not-for-profit PangeaSeed Foundation which calls it a marriage between art and activism. Their goal is, through creating original art that is both compelling and educational, to help people understand how they are hurting our oceans and encourage involvement.
The murals are done on underused, otherwise dull buildings and surfaces that are turned into focal points of thought-provoking art to open the way toward understanding the importance of ocean and marine life health. Not surprisingly, the art serves to transcend language, cultural and educational barriers.

We all know a picture is worth a thousand words. The hope of the ARTivism project is that an artwork will be worth the saving of our oceans and marine life.

If you’re interested in learning more, log onto or look at the video here:

If you’d like to do even more, sponsor a mural as an Anglerfish, Swordfish or Great White Shark. Further information is on the Pangea website.

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Caratoes Portrait by Nate Peracciny (Pangeaseed foundation)

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

All you foodies and “greenies” out there – here’s a great PR idea that will help cut down on plastic and position you – and your company – as savvy and eco-friendly.

Following in the long-time tradition of Asian countries, particularly India, a German company is now producing strong, waterproof, biodegradeable plates made of stitched leaves. The leaves are sourced in India because it’s the only leaf that stays a vibrant green after being pressed. After use, it will take about four weeks for them to biodegrade.

It’s one of the interesting things we thought you should know.

Eco-friendly plates are made out of leaves

These disposable plates are saving the Earth 🍃 leaf republic

Posted by In The Know Innovation on Sunday, May 6, 2018

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

Having explored the many benefits of installing a green roof, now we’ll explore some of the complications, expenses and long-term commitments when you choose to turn an ugly, underused part of a building’s real estate into a major asset.

Green roofs are a costly undertaking as you can’t simply buy some plants, put them in pots on your roof and call it a garden. You’ll need to know your building’s load capacity; usage (will it only be viewed or be used as garden space?); what part of the roof you will green (exposures will vary greatly); whether to install an intensive green roof which is thicker, deeper, heavier and supports more plants, but requires more maintenance; or extensive which is shallower, lighter and more minimal maintenance; whether you opt for a modular vegetated roof, an alternative to the built-in roof where mobility makes it easier to do roof repairs and is quicker to achieve completion (but costs somewhat more); what plants will be used; and what systems will be used for root barrier, drainage and irrigation.

We hope we haven’t lost you yet because the ROI can be extraordinary which is one of the reasons green roofs and private gardens are also exploding on the residential front.

You are going to need a professional engineer and registered architect to do a structural analysis to determine if your roof can sustain vegetation or needs reinforcement; an architect/landscape designer and/or green roof specialist to design and install the system; and a big budget.
A decision will also need to made on the type of planting and systems to be used – from relatively simple sedum and grasses to a veritable forest – that fit your budget, climate, facility and goals. The latest trend is to go with native plantings.

The Mayor’s Office on Sustainability offers a green roof tax abatement. In 2008, New York City and State passed legislation – now available through March 15, 2018 – of $4.50 per square foot (up to $100,000 or the building’s tax liability, whichever is less). To qualify, your installation must be at least 50% of rooftop space.

Some prominent buildings in NYC that have installed green roofs include Rockefeller Center; the Empire State Building; Javits Center; Brooklyn Academy of Music; the Parks Department’s Five Borough Administrative Building on Randalls Island; Zeckendorf Towers on Union Square; the rooftop farm at the Brooklyn Navy Yard; the New School’s LEED-Gold student center; and the Bronx County Courthouse, the first of its kind in the borough.

The largest green roof in New York City is in midtown Manhattan atop the U.S. Postal Service’s Morgan Processing and Distribution Center.

The funkiest – and award-winning – green roof includes plastic rocks, artificial boxwoods, clear crushed glass and recycled rubber mulch. It’s on top of the Museum of Modern Art and, although visible, it’s inaccessible.

Among the latest news is Macy’s interest in creating a rooftop restaurant and garden at Herald Square; the green wall at the top of The Knickerbocker Hotel; and, though we know it’s not the roof although it’s green, the renovation of the glass pyramid Apple store uptown which is expected to include a grove of potted trees.

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

You’ve maximized your building’s energy efficiency. Retrofitted the lighting. Upgraded HVAC. Switched to green cleaning products. Have a top-notch recycling program. You’re good. You’re green. Nope.

As New Yorkers, we are disinclined to look up, but if you want to be part of the next, great green building revolution, look to your roof.

Green roofs are gorgeous living architecture – visible, beautiful, usable and valuable to tenants and building owners, as well as migratory wildlife. With the exception of going solar, greening a property’s roof may well be the last, grand, green frontier, and New York City building owners are embracing its worth.

‘Developers and architects see the value in rooftop spaces and terraces planted with beautiful, functional gardens,” says Howard K. Freilich, president and CEO of Blondie’s Treehouse. “We are seeing a steady stream of new projects in Brooklyn and throughout New York, with a real focus on native plantings.” Freilich should know. His Manhattan-based firm is one of the largest horticultural firms in the U.S. known for innovative designs and excellent customer care.

The benefits of green roofs are numerous and quite compelling. The U.S. Department of Environmental Protection (EPA) has in-depth information on how green roofs reduce the Urban Heat Island Effect. New York City is a vast summertime heat island with a negative impact on energy, water and health. Vegetative roofs act as building insulators, reducing energy usage and the extent and cost of air conditioning and heat as well as reduce air pollution and greenhouse gasses. According to the EPA, “On hot summer days, the surface temperature of a green roof can be cooler than the air temperature, whereas the surface of a conventional rooftop can be up to 90 degrees warmer.”

Then there’s stormwater management, no small issue in New York City. Green roofs help control runoff as vegetation absorbs water that, as runoff, contains a high amount of pollution and contaminants. With so much of the City’s surfaces impervious, runoff can cause sewer overflow which empties into the city’s waterways.

Green roofs can also extend roof life, reduce AC and heating costs, serve as a stormwater management tool and fire retardant, reduce noise, contribute to air quality and greatly enhance a property’s marketability and value by providing viewable or useable garden and recreational space. They can also be used for sustainability points for certifications and give an owner bragging rights on their building’s green profile.

In Part II, we’ll explore some of the challenges of building a green roof and some of the City’s prominent buildings which are already featuring – and championing – green roofs.

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