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Dec. 31, 2009: New Legislation to Create Greener, More Efficient Buildings in New York City

December 31, 2009
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NEW YORK - Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has announced the passage of new legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase energy efficiency from existing government, commercial, and residential buildings in New York City. The six-point Greener, Greater Buildings Plan, enacted as part of PlaNYC, includes four bills designed to significantly reduce the city’s energy usage, saving consumers an estimated $700 million annually in energy costs, while creating 17,880 jobs and reducing New York City’s carbon footprint. In addition to the four pieces of legislation, the six-point plan includes two PlaNYC programs that will train workers for the new construction-related jobs that will be created, and help finance energy-saving improvements using $16 million in federal stimulus funding. The plan will also result in cleaner air, since pollution from boilers, furnaces, and local power plants will also be reduced.

“While New York already has the lowest per capita carbon footprint of any major city in America, we recognize that every city must take action to fight climate change” said Bloomberg. “By requiring buildings to conduct energy audits and improve their energy efficiency, the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan will reduce the city’s total greenhouse gas emissions while creating thousands of jobs and dramatically reducing annual energy costs.”

According to the city, approximately 80 percent of New York City’s carbon footprint comes from buildings’ energy use, and 85 percent of the buildings that exist today will be in use in 2030. As a result, increasing efficiency in existing buildings is critical to meeting the PlaNYC goal of a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Once implemented, the legislation is expected to reduce citywide greenhouse gas emissions by 4.75 percent, the largest reduction achieved by a single program.

The four bills passed include:

• Int. No. 564-A: Legislation that creates a New York City Energy Code that existing buildings will have to meet whenever they make renovations;

• Int. No. 476-A: Legislation that requires large buildings owners to make an annual benchmark analysis of energy consumption so that owners, tenants, and potential tenants can compare buildings’ energy consumption;

• Int. No. 973-A: Legislation that requires large commercial buildings (over 50,000 square feet) to upgrade their lighting and sub-meter tenant spaces over 10,000 square feet; and

• Int. No. 967-A: Legislation that requires large private buildings to conduct energy audits once every decade and implement energy efficient maintenance practices. Also, all city-owned buildings over 10,000 square feet will be required to conduct audits and complete energy retrofits that pay for themselves within seven years.

In addition to the legislation, the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan includes two other initiatives: A workforce development working group of real estate, labor, and others that will identify the skills needed and ensure that sufficient training opportunities exist to fill the estimated 17,880 construction and building-related jobs the legislation will create. The working group began meeting over the summer, in partnership with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and an innovative financing program that uses federal stimulus money to provide loans for property owners to pay the upfront costs for the efficiency upgrades that eventually pay for themselves. In September, the U.S. Department of Energy approved the city’s application to use the legal maximum - $16 million - of its energy efficiency community block grant funds for this purpose. The city is in the process of designing the financing program now, which is expected to be able to issue its first loans in mid-2010.

Publication date: 12/28/2009

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