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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio 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,” de Blasio said. “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 U.S. 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.
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 1 million square foot building operating well over its energy target would pay as much as $2 million 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.
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.
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.