Mayor de Blasio: NYC Will Be First City to Mandate that Existing Buildings Dramatically Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions

September 14, 2017

Mandates on NYC’s 14,500 least efficient buildings to accelerate and deepen major efficiency upgrades; most ambitious program of its kind in the nation; financing to support retrofits, steep penalties for non-compliance; will spur 17,000 ‘green jobs’

NEW YORK— Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced new mandates that will force building owners to make sharp reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The new rules will compel owners to meet fossil fuel caps – requiring deeper upgrades to boilers, water heaters, roofs and windows on an accelerated 2030 timeframe – with sharp penalties for failure to comply.

“Time is not on our side,” said Mayor de Blasio. “New York will continue to step up and make critical changes to help protect our city and prevent the worst effects of climate change. We must shed our buildings’ reliance on fossil fuels here and now. To do this, we are mandating upgrades to increase the energy efficiency of our buildings, helping us continue to honor the goals of the Paris Agreement. No matter what happens in Washington, we will not shirk our responsibility to act on climate in our own backyard.”

When President Trump announced the US would abandon the Paris Climate Agreement earlier this year, the Mayor pledged New York City would adhere to the treaty and accelerate its own actions to reach the 80 percent reduction in emissions by the 2050 target. Fossil fuels used for heat and hot water in buildings are the city’s single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

The mandates announced today frontload the most dramatic reductions into the coming decade, and are the first step the City must take to help hold global temperature increases to just 1.5 degrees Celsius and avoid the most disastrous effects of climate change.

Mandated fossil fuel caps will apply to all buildings over 25,000 square feet, and will trigger replacement of fossil fuel equipment and efficiency upgrades in the worst-performing 14,500 buildings, which together produce 24 percent of the city’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

In order to meet these targets, building owners will make improvements to boilers, heat distribution, hot water heaters, roofs and windows, requiring deeper changes during their replacement or refinancing cycles over the next 12 to 17 years.

The new targets will reduce total citywide greenhouse emissions 7 percent by 2035, the single largest step yet taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to taking 900,000 cars off the road, and spur 17,000 green jobs performing building retrofits. The plan will be enacted via legislation, backed by the administration and sponsored by Council Member Costa Constantinides.

To compel building owners to meet these aggressive targets, the legislation will set annual penalties that increase with building size and the amount the buildings exceed the fossil fuel use targets. For example, a 30,000 square foot residential building operating substantially above its energy target would pay $60,000 for every year over the standard, starting in 2030. A one million square foot building operating well over its energy target would pay as much as $2,000,000 for every year over target. Failure to comply will also affect a building’s ability to receive future permits for major renovations.

To help smaller owners achieve these objectives, the legislation will authorize a Property Assessed Clean Energy program to provide financing at low interest with long terms that allow property owners to pay for energy efficiency investments through their property tax bill. A PACE program in New York City has the potential to finance $100 million annually in energy efficiency and clean energy projects. A 54-unit apartment building in the Bronx that recently upgraded its boiler and made energy-saving upgrades would have saved $8,000 per year in debt payments had PACE financing been available. The City will also continue to provide expansive technical support and sharing of best practices through the NYC Retrofit Accelerator program.

The plan will stop landlords of rent regulated buildings from displacing tenants or raising rents based on the cost of improvements required by new mandates. Targets for these buildings will be established in 2020, in tandem with reform of rent regulation. They will also have an extended compliance date of 2035.

The legislation is the first necessary step in fulfilling Mayor de Blasio’s Executive Order 26 signed after President withdrew the United States from the Paris Agreement. The executive order committed New York City to the principles of the Paris Agreement and directed all City agencies to develop a plan by September 30, 2017 to accelerate our 80 x 50 efforts and align them with the Paris agreement’s stretch goal of limiting a global temperature increase to l.5° Celsius.

In New York City, fossil fuels burned in buildings for heat and hot water are the number one source of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for 42 percent of the citywide total. The burning of these fuels also contributes to air pollution that causes asthma, bronchitis, and premature death, particularly among children and seniors. To address this climate threat, the proposed legislation draws on inspiration from President Obama's Clean Power Plan and the successful New York City Clean Heat program to challenge building owners of the City's largest buildings to meet ambitious but achievable targets to reduce their use of fossil fuels. While the mandate will set the target, it leaves flexibility and time for building owners to make the necessary improvements that make the most sense for their building.
  
By 2035, benefits from this program include:

  • Less carbon pollution: Reduced citywide greenhouse gasses by 7 percent = 900,000 cars off the road.
  • Green jobs: 17,000 good middle class jobs created for plumbers, carpenters, electricians, engineers, architects, and energy specialists. A well trained workforce is necessary to help us to meet our ambitious goals and so the City's Green Jobs Corps, in close partnership with the skilled trades, will help to prepare thousands of New Yorkers for careers at good wages and benefits to do this work.
  • Less reliance on fossil fuels: 14 percent reduction in natural gas use and a 20 percent reduction in fuel oil use.
  • Cleaner air: Improved air quality, enough to avoid 40 premature deaths and 100 emergency room visits related to asthma every year.
  • Lower annual energy costs, more comfortable indoor spaces: Energy cost savings up to $300 million per year for multifamily building owners and more consistent temperature for tenants.

"At this moment, we're watching the climate change before our very eyes as the most intense storms like Harvey and Irma become more frequent," said Daniel Zarrilli, NYC's  Senior Director of Climate Policy and Programs and Chief Resilience Officer. "These impacts could get even worse. Now is the time ‎to accelerate New York City's climate action to achieve the Paris Agreement and lead toward a safer, cleaner, and more resilient city and planet."

"Now more than ever, we must take bold steps to increase the efficiency of our city's buildings and lead the way in addressing climate threats.  Through our many affordable housing programs, HPD is committed to working in tandem with other City agencies to meet the mayor’s ambitious goals and create a more sustainable city. ” said Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer.

“Buildings are the city’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, and New York is leading by example with the most ambitious program in the nation to mandate a dramatic cut in emissions from our City’s building stock," said Mark Chambers, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. "Less carbon pollution and less reliance on fossil fuels mean lower energy costs, more comfortable environments for tenants, and cleaner air for all New Yorkers, all of which put us on track toward achieving our vision of a sustainable, thriving, and just city."

"Climate change is not the cause of hurricanes but makes hurricanes much stronger. With devastation from back to back hurricanes, it is imperative that we reduce the demand for fossil fuels. Mayor de Blasio's bold commitment to reduce energy demand in buildings is timely and crucially important," said Judith Enck, former EPA Regional Administrator.

"The urgency of the climate crisis becomes clearer each day, as do the benefits of shifting to a clean, low carbon economy. New York City's leadership sets a benchmark for cities in the United States and around the world. Mayor de Blasio is meeting real threats with real solutions to protect the climate, but more importantly to protect the health, safety and prosperity of New Yorkers,” said Brendan Shane, Regional Director for North America, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group.

"Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is essential to lowering risks of extreme climate events around the world," said Cynthia Rosenzweig, Co-Chair of the New York City Panel on Climate Change. "By stepping up to fulfilling its ambitious targets, New York City is contributing to solving the global challenge of climate change."

"Reducing pollution from the buildings sector is essential to mitigating climate change, as buildings account for more than two-thirds of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions. We look forward to working with the City and the private sector to lower pollution from buildings and create a cleaner, healthier energy future for New York City,” said Andy Darrell, New York Regional Director of the Environmental Defense Fund.

“Reducing the amount of energy used in the buildings in our city will put money back in New Yorkers’ pockets while improving air quality and creating jobs,” said Donna De Costanzo, Director, Northeast Energy and Sustainable Communities at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “This latest example of New York City’s climate leadership shows how America’s cities can be at the forefront of fighting the biggest environmental challenge of our time. We look forward to working to ensure successful execution of this new, ambitious energy efficiency framework.”

“Tackling energy usage in New York City buildings is essential to creating climate resiliency. We look forward to working with the administration to meet these ambitious goals while continuing to protect low and moderate-income tenants and furthering true sustainability for all,” said Peggy Shepard, Executive Director of WE ACT for Environmental Justice.

"Climate change is occurring at a rapidly accelerating pace -- hurricanes like Harvey, Irma and Sandy have given us a taste of what the human and economic costs of inaction could look like. More than ever, we need cities like New York to step up and display leadership in keeping global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius. Electrification of heating, cooling, and hot water in buildings is the number one way New York City can do its part in accomplishing that goal. We applaud Mayor de Blasio for putting forth an ambitious plan to improve energy efficiency and honor his C40 commitments," said Marcia Bystryn, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters.

“Today’s announcement by Mayor de Blasio will improve air quality in New York City, while also reducing a major source of the City’s carbon pollution that drives climate change. This program will provide relief for the millions of New Yorkers who suffer from lung diseases, as well as demonstrate much-needed leadership in addressing the health impacts of climate change.  We look forward to working with the Council and the Administration to see this program signed into law,” said Jeff Seyler, Executive Vice President, American Lung Association | Northeast Region.

"The City's greenhouse emission reduction initiative will not only help make buildings more environmentally friendly, but it also will create good middle-class construction jobs," said Gary LaBarbera, president of the 100,000 member Building & Construction Trades Council of Greater New York. "New York City is going green and we look forward to working with the City to provide a well-trained and skilled workforce to accomplish these goals. Ensuring a greener city is important not only now, but for our children and our children’s children."

"The Mayor's Clean and Efficient Buildings Plan is a welcome step towards cutting greenhouse gases from the largest source of emissions in New York City and getting us closer to the much needed 80x50 goal," said 32BJ President Héctor Figueroa. "What our green certified members have learned is that making our buildings cleaner can be both impactful and cost-effective. With nearly 80 percent of New York’s greenhouse gas emissions produced by buildings, it’s imperative for owners, workers, environmental groups and the government to jointly tackle this environmental challenge.”

“DCAS is working hard to drastically cut emissions from municipal facilities and we understand that as the electric supply gets cleaner we must also focus our attention on the critical need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels used for heating,” said DCAS Commissioner Lisette Camilo. “This legislation will ensure that a balanced approach is taken in addressing our least efficient buildings.  DCAS has already made energy retrofit investments in over 1,100 city-owned buildings, and the work isn’t stopping there.”

“Climate change is real and everyone needs to do their part to make New York City more sustainable and resilient,” said NYCHA Chair and CEO Shola Olatoye. “We strongly support the Mayor’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which will not only help us achieve our NextGen goal of creating safe, clean and connected communities for our residents, but also means a healthier future for all New Yorkers.”

“Investing in school buildings is a direct investment in the future of our City,” said Lorraine Grillo, CEO and President of the New York City School Construction Authority. “With more than 1,300 school buildings across New York City, and more being built each year, we’re in an incredible position to advance this City’s sustainability goals, and we look forward to working with our partners across agencies to create a cleaner and greener city for future generations.”

“By setting achievable standards, we can unleash the creativity of the market to realize the Mayor’s vision of reducing carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050. Advanced green technology is in use right now in many buildings in the city and I’m confident that the wide adoption of these systems will reduce both energy bills and our carbon footprint,” said Buildings Commissioner Rick D. Chandler, PE.

NYC Department of Design and Construction Acting Commissioner Ana Barrio said, “DDC recognizes sustainability as one of the main principles guiding all its public building and infrastructure designs. The Mayor’s 80x50 goal is an opportunity to create new jobs and industries, to improve public health, to extend the longevity of municipal buildings through comprehensive retrofits and to enhance neighborhood resiliency with buildings that are better able to withstand utility disruptions. We are proud to stand with the administration at the forefront of public health protection not just for the City but for the world.”

“As a city of islands, we in New York are keenly aware of our changing climate, and it is precisely the type of bold action that Mayor de Blasio is proposing today that is necessary to protect our 8.5 million residents,” said DEP Acting Commissioner Vincent Sapienza. “When we successfully transitioned all buildings in the city from #6 heating oil, it proved that government could work with the private sector to establish ambitious environmental and public health targets, and then through a combination of financing incentives and enforcement, make those goals a reality.”  

Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, "Mayor de Blasio's plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is innovative and essential. With climate change deniers at the highest levels of government in Washington, New York has a responsibility to step up and lead in the fight to protect our environment. I hope that this bold action by New York City will be replicated by other large cities throughout the country, and I commend Mayor de Blasio for his leadership on this critical issue."

“It’s critical for New York to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels. The Mayor’s effort to require retrofitting standards for city buildings will help us achieve this goal. Today’s initiative complements my efforts in Albany to create a carbon tax on the use of fossil fuels in New York State and to eliminate the investment of public pension funds in large fossil fuel companies,” said Assistant Speaker Felix W. Ortiz.

"With the rise in extreme weather and the countless other signs that things are not normal, the question around climate change isn't if it's happening, it's what can we do about it," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "There's only one way New York should answer that question: everything we can. We're already at work greening our vehicle fleets and our infrastructure, and we have no time to waste: we must tackle our buildings next."

“A greener borough and city has been a top priority of mine since I began my career in elected office. My office has funded innovative programs to expand the green economy, and I will not provide capital funds to any project that does not include a significant green component. Our building stock, especially older structures, is the top contributor of greenhouse gas emissions by far, and their environmental impact must be addressed sooner rather than later. This new initiative will continue to move our city in the right direction on climate change, and I congratulate Mayor de Blasio for undertaking this considerable effort to develop a cleaner, greener New York City,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said: “Mayor de Blasio’s new mandates for energy efficiency in our city’s buildings fall right in line with the work of my Renewable and Sustainable Energy Taskforce, which has been working closely with public and private stakeholders to encourage greener practices in the functioning of structures big and small alike. We know that a building’s energy efficiency is a major contributor to the battle against climate change, and in the absence of leadership from the White House, the People’s House in Brooklyn is prepared to step up. We are working hard to phase out fossil fuels from every corner of our borough, moving toward energy solutions that are cleaner, more resilient, and ultimately better for the health of our economy and our residents.”

“I am proud to stand in support of Mayor de Blasio’s initiative to reduce New York City’s greenhouse gas emissions and make our city buildings more energy efficient and environmentally friendly,” said Rep. Adriano Espaillat. “New York City is a leader in our efforts to promote innovation, and today’s announcement signifies progress in benchmark improvements in how we operate on a daily basis.”  

“Where the President and this White House have failed to lead, I’m proud New York City is stepping up.  We’ve seen already the damaging effects brought on by climate change and it will take a concerted effort at all levels of government and in both the private and public sectors to change course. I applaud the Mayor for this latest initiative and will continue working at the federal level to secure reductions in greenhouse gas emissions,” said Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez.

Senator Liz Krueger said: “The devastation of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma reminds us of a harsh reality – New York is on the front lines in the fight against climate change. With the White House and Congress sticking their heads in the sand, it is up to cities and states to meet our responsibility to ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren. I applaud Mayor de Blasio for committing to a bold plan for reducing building emissions in our city. Today’s announcement will lead to more jobs, lower energy costs, cleaner air, and a step toward the carbon-free future that we need."

Senator Brad Hoylman said: "As we've seen in recent weeks, climate change poses an immediate threat to our planet. At a time when the federal EPA is controlled by climate deniers, it's up to states and cities to take the lead in this fight. I'm thankful to Mayor de Blasio for these new energy efficiency standards, which will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve our environment, and protect the health and well-being of all New Yorkers." 

Senator Jesse Hamilton said: "With Superstorm Sandy and hurricanes Harvey and Irma, we can see climate change having real, devastating impacts. That’s why we must act urgently to cut greenhouse gas emissions. In the face of willful ignorance by the Trump administration, we must redouble our efforts to get our carbon budget in order. I welcome this initiative by Mayor De Blasio to set targets and cut emissions from more than 14,000 New York City buildings. Action today forestalls the worst-case scenarios and secures a safer, sustainable future for our children and our grandchildren."

"Humanity can no longer ignore the damage we are doing to our environment. I am proud that our City will continue to abide by the goals set forth in the Paris Agreement by shouldering our responsibility and enacting the changes we need to protect our environment and the health of our residents," said Senator Gustavo Rivera.

Assembly Member Latrice Walker said: “Now more than ever, we need to take the necessary steps to make New York City a more eco-friendly, energy-efficient place that we call home," said Assemblywoman Walker. "I applaud Mayor Bill de Blasio for producing the Property Assessed Clean Energy program which brings us the opportunity to reduce our carbon footprint by reducing greenhouse gases, lowering our consumption on fossil fuels and increasing our job economy as well. It's time to take responsibility for climate change and I look forward to providing future generations with cleaner air to decrease health issues, like asthma, in our youth." 

"The recent hurricanes and flooding throughout the world are further proof of how our climate is changing," said Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte. "We can all take steps to reduce our carbon footprint and so I am happy to see that Mayor Bill de Blasio has an aggressive plan to reduce the City's reliance on fossil fuels especially since the by-products of burning those fossil fuels have a disparate impact on communities of color. I am especially impressed with the Property Assessed Clean Energy program as it meets the triple bottom line of being good for people in that property owners can pay for energy efficiency investments through their property tax bill, good for the economy as it has the potential to finance $100 million annually in energy efficiency and clean energy projects, which means jobs, and good for the environment because it will mean cleaner air."

"We simply cannot depend on Washington to protect our environment right now. At a time when our nation’s capital is moving backwards on fighting climate change, I'm thrilled that Mayor de Blasio has committed to honor the goals of the Paris Agreement. Ensuring that the city's largest buildings reduce their reliance on fossil fuels will lower greenhouse gas emissions and show that New York City is serious about fighting air pollution and protecting our planet,” said Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon.

“I am proud of the city’s initiative to cut reliance on fossil fuels in NYC’s largest buildings by 2030. These buildings contribute to a huge amount of pollution into the air that can cause all sorts of health problems for New Yorkers, not to mention what continued reliance on fossil fuels will do to the climate. At a time when the Federal government is deliberately ignoring the perils of fossil fuels, it falls upon city and state government to take up the mantle of responsibility and combat the deleterious effects of reliance on those archaic methods of energy production,” said Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz.

“I applaud Mayor de Blasio and his Office of Sustainability for taking decisive action and setting a clear roadmap to address climate change through the reduction of our city’s reliance on fossil fuels. Buildings that are more energy-efficient help reduce pollution, drive down our carbon footprint, and can achieve significant savings which is critical to the long-term preservation of affordability in our communities. I look forward to continuing our partnership with the City to help achieve the Mayor’s goal of creating a greener and more sustainable New York for everybody,” said Sadie McKeown, Senior Vice President & Chief Operating Officer at the Community Preservation Corporation.

"Climate is an NYC issue, a local issue and a global issue. Climate affects each and every community.  The Mayor's bold program leads as an example for cities across the country and world to do their part in combating global climate change. Meeting these targets will alleviate the intensity of storms like Irma, and Sandy that can hit New York, while building a more resilient infrastructure and will create green jobs for New Yorkers.  South Asian American Voice is with NYC and our Mayor to support these important steps in saving our planet for our future generations," said Milan Rahman, Board Chair South Asian American Voice.

"These new initiatives announced by the Mayor to combat climate change are incredibly exciting. As a city, all property owners, large and small, can work to reduce carbon emissions and protect our neighbors and communities from the many threats associated with climate change," said Christie Peale, Executive Director of the Center for NYC Neighborhoods, which promotes and protect affordable homeownership. “We are also gratified to see that the City will be increasing access to low-cost financing and technical assistance to support energy efficiency, which will help us to build a more sustainable and affordable NYC.”

“New York’s architects and design professionals have long been devoted to making the places where we live, learn and work more sustainable and energy-efficient. With NYC setting the course for dramatic carbon reductions in buildings, we’re eager to collaborate with our public and private partners to meet these ambitious goals,” said Benjamin Prosky, Assoc. AIA and Executive Director of American Institute of Architects New York.

"RiseBoro Community Partnership applauds Mayor de Blasio and his team on the mandate to dramatically cut greenhouse emissions of existing buildings.  This program can significantly impact the communities we serve through improved air quality, creation of green jobs, and a decreased operating costs in affordable housing.  RiseBoro has already implemented many of the measures required through the mandate, and can attest to the significant efficiency gains realized through the improvements.  As longtime advocates for building energy efficiency and reducing reliance on fossil fuels, we hope the fossil fuel mandate spurs landlords into action and helps realize NYC's ambitious goal of 80% GHG reduction by 2050," said Scott Short, Chief Operating Officer of RiseBoro Community Partnership.


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