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Climate Change Means Co-op and Condo Boards Must Change

New York City

Climate Act

A green new day is dawning, and co-op and condo boards need to wake up.

Aug. 30, 2019

Habitat spoke recently with Dan Wurtzel, president of FirstService Residential, about the city’s new Climate Mobilization Act.

New York City has passed a set of very ambitious climate laws that will affect all buildings, including co-ops and condos. What do boards need to know?

I wouldn't say it's just one specific thing. It's really more of a four-step process. The first step is education. Boards need to understand what the Climate Mobilization Act is and how it affects their buildings. What makes this even more challenging is that boards turn over each year, maybe not in their entirety, but there may be one or two new board members. The education process needs to continue on for many years. 

What’s the next step boards should take?

They need to determine what is needed for their building to comply. It's a little early right now to be able to say a specific building has to do X, Y and Z. Some buildings may be right on the mark in terms of their emissions, but I think virtually every building will have to do at least one project, sometimes many more.

Then what?

Step 3 is for boards to understand exactly what they need to do for their building and to create a capital plan to get these projects done. As part of that plan, they also need to be able to understand where the money is coming from, because no one has extra money lying around for projects they didn't even realize they needed to do a year ago. There are many avenues to come up with the money. Boards should also know that the city, as part of the Climate Mobilization Act, has set up a financing tool to help them do this.

Boards are used to meeting Local Law 11 deadlines. They hire an architect, an engineer. Is this law going to require hiring some kind of professional to guide boards?

Absolutely. This is Step 4, which is implementation. There will have to be understanding of the type of project that you're going to be doing, and then mapping it out over a period of time so that you meet the 2030 deadline. In order to do that, you need professionals in place. You would not put a new roof on your building without having a professional properly spec it, and you're shouldn’t change equipment in your building without professional guidance, either.

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