Ailsa Chang is an award-winning journalist who covers criminal justice, terrorism and the courts for WNYC. She found her way into public radio after practicing law for five years, and can definitely say that walking the streets of New York City with a microphone is a lot more fun than being holed up in the office writing letters to opposing counsel.
Stores Running the AC? Then Shut the Door!
Monday, July 05, 2010
New York, NY –
As the heat wave continues to pound New York City, stores are blasting their air conditioners as a way to lure in overheated customers. Councilwoman Gail Brewer of the Upper West Side says her office hopes to conduct surveys during this week's heat wave to see if stores are complying with the city law requiring large stores to shut their doors if they have the air conditioner running.
The law only applies to stores larger than 4,000 square feet or chains that have at least five stores in the city. But Brewer, who sponsored the law last year, says all stores should care about conserving energy.
"Even smaller stores -- if they're thinking about the environment and carbon footprints -- should be closing their doors, in my opinion, when they have the air conditioning on," says Brewer.
Brewer says she'd like to see a stronger law that applies to all stores, regardless of size. The city's Department of Consumer Affairs is charged with enforcing the law. Brewer says one main problem the department is having right now is that a lot of stores still don't know about the law, so violations continue all over the city. That was certainly the case at the clothing store French Connection in SoHo, which had its door wide open as the sidewalk sizzled outside.
Sales associate Makieda Boreland says neither she nor her manager had ever heard about the city law. But she says this is a store that is conscious about energy conservation.
"We are concerned about the energy crisis," says Boreland, "so we only open one door instead of two, 'cause normally we have two doors open -- three doors open, actually."
Boreland says she believes the French Connection store is more than four thousand square feet. They keep their doors open, she says, because it's more welcoming to customers outside.
According to the Long Island Power Authority, leaving store doors open while air conditioners are operating can increase electricity use by 20 to 25 percent.