As expected, the New York City Council has passed sweeping legislation to force large buildings to cut their carbon emissions by 40 percent – compared to 2005 levels – by the year 2030. Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign the 10 bills into law on Earth Day, next Monday, April 22.
John Mandyck, chief executive at the nonprofit Urban Green Council, which helped lay the groundwork for the legislation, calls it “the most ambitious climate legislation for buildings enacted by any city in the world.” He tells Crain’s: "Buildings will have to do deep energy retrofits or buy green power or eventually look at carbon trading. We get that it's tough and that billions of dollars will need to be spent to reduce carbon emissions. But new technology and new business models will be invented to help buildings get there."
Buildings account for two-thirds of the city’s carbon emissions, and large buildings that fall under the new law, including co-ops and condos, face costly retrofits to their boilers, windows, and other building systems – or the prospect of huge fines if they fail to meet targets.
Co-op and condo activists and some landlords have complained that the new rules are unfair in the way they apply the same standard to entirely different buildings and ask far more of some properties than others. Among those opposed to the rules is the developer-friendly Real Estate Board of New York, whose president, John Banks says in a statement: “The real estate industry and other stakeholders support the goal of reducing carbon emissions 40 percent by 2030. The bill that passed today, however, will fall short of achieving the 40-by-30 goal by only including half the city's building stock. The approach taken today will have a negative impact on our ability to attract and retain a broad range of industries, including technology, media, finance and life sciences.”
Supporters of the bills say they create leeway for owners by allowing those who can't meet the targeted energy cuts or afford sufficient energy-saving upgrades to instead purchase renewable energy from the grid and carbon credits to meet the goals.
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