New York Skyline Targeted with Energy Efficiency Upgrade Rules

Photo-illustration: Pixabay

Measures that would force owners of New York City’s 14,500 least efficient large buildings to install upgrades to boilers, water heaters, roofs, and windows in order to cut emissions have been outlined by the city’s Mayor, Bill de Blasio.

The new rules announced last week would compel NYC buildings of over 25,000 sq. ft. in size to meet regulatory fossil fuel caps or face sharp penalties from the city’s authorities, with the aim of boosting air quality and cutting total city wide greenhouse gas emissions by seven per cent between now and 2035.

The worst performing 14,500 large buildings account for 24 per cent of the city’s total greenhouse gas emissions, and the new building measures will therefore help the city towards its 2050 target of cutting emissions by 80 per cent from 2005 levels, according to the Mayor.

“New York will continue to step up and make critical changes to help protect our city and prevent the worst effects of climate change,” said de Blasio, who has been highly vocal in his criticism of US President Donald Trump’s stance on 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 honour 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.”

Fossil fuels burned in buildings for heat and hot water are New York’s largest single source of emissions, accounting for 42 per cent of the total, he added.

The Mayor’s Office estimates the new measures will help create an estimated 17,000 green jobs to perform building retrofits.

To compel building owners to achieve these objectives, the proposed legislation will set annual penalties that increase with building size and the amount by which the buildings exceed the fossil fuel use targets.

At the same time, it will also establish a new low interest green financing programme to help owners meet the standards and prevent landlords from hiking rents in order to pay for building improvements, de Blasio revealed.

The city authorities estimated the penalties would mean a 30,000 sq. ft. building operating substantially above its energy target would be fined $60,000 for every year it failed to meet the standards from 2030.

Mark Chambers, director of the Mayor’s office of sustainability, said the building emissions proposals were the “most ambitious” in the US.

“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,” he said.