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Co-ops and Condos Get Ready for an Electric Future

Bill Morris in Bricks & Bucks on March 3, 2021

New York City

Electrification, electric grid, renewable energy, Climate Mobilization Act, co-ops and condos.
March 3, 2021

Like it or not, New York City co-ops and condos are about to get pressed into service as foot soldiers in the war on climate change. The city’s Climate Mobilization Act, one of the most ambitious on the planet, will require co-op and condo boards to reduce their buildings’ carbon emissions to specified levels beginning in 2024, or pay stiff fines. The ultimate goal is to reduce building emissions by 80% by 2050.

Turns out there’s a silver lining to this daunting green initiative. The shift away from fossil fuels to building systems powered by clean electricity – a process known as electrification – is already under way. And it will not only fight climate change but also save money on energy bills, according to a new analysis by the nonprofit Rewiring America. The report claims that the average New York household could save more than $2,000 a year on energy supplied by clean electricity. In addition, the switch to electricity supplied by such renewable sources as wind, solar, hydroelectric and geothermal could create nearly 400,000 jobs statewide.

“This analysis provides an exciting and desperately needed roadmap for a brighter future,” says Adam Zurofsky, executive director of Rewiring America.“If we do it right, electrifying the New York household presents a unique opportunity to create jobs, save families money and dramatically slash harmful emissions in the process.”

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Zurofsky, who serves on the board of his Tribeca condo, adds that the state’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act mandates that all electricity in the state must come from renewable sources by 2040.

“The cleaning of the grid is already going on in New York State,” Zurofsky says, pointing to the construction of massive wind farms off the coast of Long Island, incentives and tax breaks for installing solar panels, and the proposed Champlain Hudson Power Express, buried cables that will bring electricity produced by a massive hydroelectric project from Canada to New York City. “As the grid gets cleaner, going off oil and natural gas for heat and hot water is going to be the most efficient way to get building carbon emissions down,” Zurofsky adds. “Right now, electric-powered air-source heat pumps are the logical choice. They’re clean, they don’t make noise, they’re terrific.”

(In our January issue, Habitat reported on a 10-unit co-op on the Upper West Side that switched from an oil-fired boiler to air-source heat pumps for every unit in an effort to reduce its carbon emissions and meet the caps set by the Climate Mobilization Act.)

Electrifying households statewide could save up to $15 billion annually, according to the Rewiring America report, which is titled “No Place Like Home: New York.” The nonprofit is a coalition of engineers, entrepreneurs and volunteers whose mission is to rejuvenate the economy and address climate change by electrifying everything. 

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