NYC mayor announces new energy efficiency initiatives to reduce city’s greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050

New York City Mayor de Blasio announced April 22 new energy efficiency initiatives that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from New York City’s more than 1 million buildings – of all sizes, types, and uses – and put the city on a pathway to an 80 percent reduction in all emissions by 2050, while creating green jobs and generating energy savings for building owners and tenants. The adminstration also outlined a series of programs that will provide technical and financial support to building owners and managers in making these significant improvements.

“Cities that lead on climate, lead on buildings,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We’ve set bold goals as we take on climate change and a clear path to meet them. The City has been leading the way by greening our own public facilities. Now, these new initiatives will dramatically reduce emissions from New York City’s over one million buildings, while saving New Yorkers millions and creating thousands of new jobs – and we’ll be providing owners support throughout the process.”

Buildings account for nearly three-quarters of all emissions in New York City. In September 2014, Mayor de Blasio released One City: Built to Last, a sweeping ten-year plan to retrofit public and private buildings to dramatically reduce the city’s contributions to climate change, while creating green jobs and generating operational savings.

Outlines of the plan according to the mayor’s extensive press release are as follows:

Require and catalyze retrofits in existing buildings

  • Require buildings to complete cost-effective energy conservation measures. Based on the data and analysis of the most common building types, the Technical Working Group identified nearly one hundred low- and medium-difficulty energy conservation measures. If only the most cost-effective (under $2 cost per lb of CO2e reduced) are fully implemented, this would reduce current building emissions by 29 percent, yield $2.4 billion in energy cost savings, and create approximately 7,600 direct construction-related jobs. The City will work with the City Council to prepare these measures for incorporation into the Energy Code or as standalone requirements, starting with: (i) improved burner controls for boilers, (ii) covering open freezers and refrigerators in retail stores, (iii) ceiling fans in heated industrial spaces, (iv) sealed roof vents in elevator shafts, (v) upgrades of exterior lighting to current Energy Code standards. Additional measures will be evaluated for code implementation by a Codes Advisory Committee, to be convened by the City.
  • Require large and mid-size building owners to repair and improve heating distribution systems within the next 10 years, specifically focusing on steam systems and radiators. More than 70 percent of all large buildings in the city use some form of steam heating distribution, with the number at over 80 percent in residential buildings. Ensuring these systems are operating well in large and mid-size buildings would reduce current building-based emissions by 4 percent, and will improve tenant comfort by preventing the need to open windows to cool overheated apartments in the winter. This is the equivalent of taking about 300,000 cars off the road – about twice the number of cars in midtown Manhattan on a typical business day.
  • Require large and mid-size building owners to assess deep energy retrofit strategies as part of their required energy audit, through a simple template developed by the City. The Technical Working Group identified deep retrofit paths for the most common building types that could reduce energy use by 40 percent to 60 percent. The NYC Retrofit Accelerator program will help support buildings that decide to move forward with these deep retrofits.
  • Improve efficiency and information transparency in mid-sized buildings and non-residential spaces. The City Council and the Mayor worked together to introduce a series of bills which will require mid-sized buildings (25,000 sq. ft. and up) to upgrade their lighting systems, sub-meter their commercial tenant spaces, and benchmark their annual energy use.
  • Seek changes to historic building and other laws to encourage energy improvements. The City will tailor energy standards for appropriate application to historic buildings, which are currently entirely exempt from the Energy Code by the State’s Energy Law. The City will also require energy information disclosures during real estate transactions.

Support Innovative Energy Design and Performance for New Buildings and Major Renovations

A new 2016 Energy Code. The 2016 New York City Energy Code was introduced in the City Council by Council Member Williams on April 20, 2016. The Codes Advisory Committee, convened by the Department of Buildings, evaluated Technical Working Group analysis and incorporated best practice efficiency requirements that can be adopted in the market in the near-term:

  • Recognizing the importance of a building’s exterior to overall energy performance, the City included a proposal in the Code to require air-leakage testing for new buildings, to help prevent energy losses.
  • For residential construction, exterior walls will be required to conform to more stringent climate zone specifications that will result in homes and low-rise residential buildings that are better insulated and provide improved comfort.
  • The Code will also require a solar-ready zone on roofs of one- and two-family homes that have sufficient solar potential.
  • All together, the updated code will reduce energy use for new buildings and major renovations by approximately 8.5 percent for new commercial buildings and 25 percent for new residential buildings as compared to existing Energy Code standards.

A new performance-based paradigm. Moving forward, the City will also seek to change the paradigm for future Energy Code updates to ensure that they account for whole building energy performance and the interaction of systems. The City will require that new buildings are evaluated according to a performance-based metric in 2019, and require energy design targets beginning in 2022.

More details from the press release here.



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