There’s a new magic number for energy calculations: 35. In a move that could have a major impact on select co-ops, the New York City Council will now require large buildings where fewer than 35% of the units are rent regulated to comply with the greenhouse gas emission limits set by the city’s sweeping Climate Mobilization Act. Before the change, owners of these buildings were given a less arduous – and less costly – alternative path to comply with the law.
The Climate Mobilization act has set ambitious goals of reducing the carbon emissions of large buildings, including co-ops and condominiums, by about 40% by 2030 and over 80% by 2050.
The tightening of the climate law was inspired by the passage of the state’s Housing Stability and Tenant Protections Act of 2019, which curtailed the way landlords can raise rents to cover the cost of major capital improvements. The City Council’s new action, which was introduced by council member Costa Constantinides, a Queens Democrat, is intended to curtail rent increases for rent-stabilized tenants while maximizing reductions to greenhouse gas emissions. The emissions mandate for buildings in which rent-regulated units make up 35% or more of the total units would not be changed; those buildings are still allowed to complete a series of low-cost prescriptive measures to increase energy efficiency.
In a related action, the City Council will require the Department of Buildings to report on steps it has taken to provide building owners with information about the law as well as programs that are available to assist with compliance, including sources of funding and incentive programs. One of numerous funding sources available to co-ops is Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), which allows boards to install energy-saving retrofits with little up-front cash outlay, then repay the loan over time through an assessment on their property taxes.
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