GREEN DEAL WITH IT: NYC Council passes sweeping building emission legislation

This is huge! Major climate victory as New York City Council passes world leading climate legislation that will dramatically reduce pollution from largest buildings, mandate solar and green roofs, study closure of all gas plants. Huge!

The New York City Council has approved a legislative package that would impose harsh limits on the city's dirtiest buildings. Pictured here: Midtown Manhattan at night. (Denys Nevozhai/Unsplash)
The New York City Council has approved a legislative package that would impose harsh limits on the city’s dirtiest buildings. Pictured here: Midtown Manhattan at night. (Denys Nevozhai/Unsplash)

Some of New York’s tallest towers are doing the most harm to the environment. Although buildings larger than 25,000 square feet only represent two percent of the city’s stock, according to the Urban Green Council that minority is responsible for up to half of all building emissions.

Now the New York City Council is finally cracking down on the worst offenders, and New York will soon become the first city in the world to constrain large building emissions through hard limits. Yesterday the council passed the eight-bill Climate Mobilization Act, a legislative package that some are comparing to a New Green Deal for New York.

The Climate Mobilization Act, which Mayor de Blasio is expected to sign, would set increasingly harsh limits on carbon emissions for buildings over 25,000 square feet beginning in 2024. According to the Urban Green Council, New York City produces 50 million tons of carbon dioxide a year, and buildings account for approximately 67 percent of that—meaning buildings over 25,000 square feet produce 35 percent, or about 13 million tons of carbon dioxide, a year.

The legislation covering the affected 50,000 buildings will roll out in phases. This year, an Office of Building Energy and Emissions Performance and an advisory board will be created at the Department of Buildings to both regulate and enforce the new standards. When the law fully takes effect in 2024, emissions from qualifying buildings will need to be reduced 40 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. The Climate Mobilization Act then takes things one step further and requires that these same buildings slash their emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

Why are large buildings such energy hogs? Lighting, heating, cooling, and tech requirements, combined with inefficient equipment, all constrained within leaky envelopes, have combined to create a perfect storm of waste. MORE

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