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An Ambitious Energy Bill Gets Major Pushback

New York City

REBNY Pushback
Dec. 5, 2018

There’s an ambitious new bill before the New York City Council, sponsored by Queens Democrat Costa Constantinides, that would require larger buildings, including co-ops and condos, to cut their greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by the year 2030. On its unveiling, the bill was greeted with applause from environmental activists. On Tuesday, the lobbying organization for the city’s biggest landlords gave the measure two thumbs down, Crain’s reports

"We have concerns about the bill's initial compliance period that require absolute greenhouse-gas reductions by 2022," Carl Hum, general counsel and senior vice president at the Real Estate Board of New York, said at a city council hearing on Tuesday. "The capital improvements needed to meet the bill's initial targets require at a minimum two years to be planned, financed, implemented and assessed. We estimate that over 450 million square feet of retrofits would need to be completed during this initial period, overwhelming the available workforce and building owners' ability to successfully implement the required retrofits within that time frame." 

The bill would require emission reductions in two stages, beginning in 2022 and again in 2024. The initiative is intended to boost Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 80X50 pledge – reducing the city’s carbon footprint 80 percent by the year 2050. Buildings account for 70 percent of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions. 

Constantinides’ bill would assemble a 27-member panel, 13 of whom would be appointed by the mayor, to devise a metric to measure energy performance without penalizing buildings that may appear to guzzle electricity but actually use it efficiently. The bill has its origins in the Blueprint for Efficiency put together earlier this year by the nonprofit Urban Green Council, the result of conversations among more than 70 leaders from the real estate, labor, energy efficiency, nonprofit, and government sectors. The Blueprint for Efficiency contains 21 recommendations which, in the words of its authors, provide “a practical policy framework to reduce emissions in large buildings by 2030.” 

The bill has the backing of council speaker Corey Johnson and a coalition of environmental groups.

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