NYC’s New Energy Mandate

Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced new mandates to New York City’s administrative code that will greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. How? By targeting the largest greenhouse gas producers in the city: buildings.

According to the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, the majority of greenhouse gas emissions in New York City can be attributed to energy used to power, heat, and cool buildings — 68%. Fossil fuel consumption is the largest part of this; 42% of greenhouse gas emissions generated in New York City are due to burning fossil fuels. The remaining 32% is attributable to transportation, namely emissions from on-road vehicles, and methane emissions from land-filled waste and the processing of wastewater.

What prompted this drive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? As Mayor de Blasio stated, “Time is not on our side. New York will…make critical changes to help protect our city and prevent the worst effects of climate change….To do this, we are mandating upgrades to increase the energy efficiency of our buildings.”

In September of 2014, New York City committed itself to reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050, with an interim target of reducing 40% by 2030. The City itself has taken steps to reduce its carbon footprint by investing in energy-efficient municipal buildings, and is on track to reach a 35% reduction in emissions by 2025, primarily by retrofitting City-owned buildings to reduce energy consumption, using solar power, and designing new properties to consume half the energy of current standards. Now, to continue this success, the City implemented mandates targeting fossil fuel consumption city-wide.

The mandates introduce a fossil fuel cap, applying to buildings with 25,000 square feet or more, and will require building owners to make improvements to boilers, heat distribution, hot water heaters, roofs, and windows. These fossil fuel caps will require equipment replacement and upgrades in the worst-performing 14,500 buildings in the City, which are accountable for 24% of the city’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

To comply building owners to meet these targets, the mandates set out penalties for buildings operating over their energy target in 2030. Failure to comply will also affect a building’s ability to receive future permits for major renovations.

Of course, achieving these targets is not without cost, and to help smaller owners, New York City authorized a program to provide low-interest, long-term financing. The City also provides technical support and facilities the sharing of best practices.

This reduction in fossil fuels is predicted to reduce emissions 7% by 2035, a large step. Next steps the City estimates it will take include creating green job opportunities, ensuring building professionals are able to construct high performance building and other workers are able to install and maintain clean energy technologies, adopting and emerging technologies and guiding their deployment through thoughtful regulations, and encouraging smaller changes on the part of citizens, like composting, using reusable shopping bags, water bottles, and stopping junk mail.

By the numbers:

  • Goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050; interim goal of reducing 40% by 2030
  • 42% of city-wide greenhouse gas emissions is attributed to burning fossil fuels
  • Mandated fossil fuel caps target worst-performing 14,500 buildings; will reduce emissions 7% by 2035
  • An estimated 17,000 jobs created to perform building retrofits and upgrades
  • 14% reduction in natural gas use; 20% reduction in fuel oil use
  • Energy savings of $300 million per year for multifamily building owners

You can find the full legislation HERE.

For more information on New York City’s new energy mandates or to learn how it will impact your business, contact me today!