After emailing a few outlets and all the members of DC Council I’ve received a number of interesting pieces of feedback. I will provide updates to this project as they develop. Also, thanks for all the feedback!
You can’t air condition the outdoors: In the high heat, many stores leave their doors open, providing brief flashes of cool for passerby but wasting huge amounts of energy. Nicko Margolies advocates for banning the practice, as NYC did recently. (DCist, Post)
From DCist (most commented and viewed post of the day):
Getting to the point: I’ve gotten at least three separate emails this morning asking me to check out a letter to the editor that the Washington Post reprinted this morning about this very issue. One Nicko Margolies writes:
With the sweltering summer heat upon the city, I find myself stunned by the policies of many area retail stores to keep the air conditioning on full blast and the front doors wide-open. It is an extraordinarily wasteful act that strains the city’s electrical grid and is terrible for the environment. Pepco recently sent a message through the D.C. government’s alert system asking residents to refrain from using power-heavy appliances during peak hours, but there is no rebuke for businesses that blow cold air directly into the street. The D.C. Council should pass legislation to punish stores because this profligate practice must go — a smart move that New York City made two years ago.
While complaining incessantly about the most menial of daily annoyances is every Washingtonian’s god-given right, this gripe seems to have a tiny bit more oomph behind it. Gothamist (really, not crack addicts, I swear) has the details on the New York law that Margolies references, which fines New York businesses $200 for “per open door/window in air conditioned spaces (as well as heated spaces in the winter)” if they’re caught in the act. And while keeping an open door might be a very good thing for small and local businesses to attract customers and maintain a sense of community, it does come off as kind of unnecessary in light of Pepco’s pleas for energy conservation. (After all, if your neighbors have melted, they probably won’t be doing much shopping.)