Posted by: Patricia Salkin | March 10, 2010

New York City Enacts Comprehensive and Mandatory Effort to Reduce Emissions From Large Buildings

On December 9, 2009, New York City enacted four bills designed to implement the City’s plans to improve energy efficient in existing buildings.  The

  • Int. No. 564-A: Legislation that creates a New York City Energy Code that existing buildings will have to meet whenever they make renovations;
  • Int. No. 476-A: Legislation that requires large buildings owners to make an annual benchmark analysis of energy consumption so that owners, tenants, and potential tenants can compare buildings’ energy consumption;
  • Int. No. 973-A: Legislation that requires large commercial buildings (over 50,000 square feet) to upgrade their lighting and sub-meter tenant spaces over 10,000 square feet; and
  • Int. No. 967-A: Legislation that requires large private buildings to conduct energy audits once every decade and implement energy efficient maintenance practices. Also, all city-owned buildings over 10,000 sq ft will be required to conduct audits and complete energy retrofits that pay for themselves within 7-years.

The City claims that the suite of new laws will save consumers $700 million annually in energy costs, create 17,880 jobs, and cut city CO2 emissions by 4.75%.  The City further claims that this would be the largest emissions reduction achieved by a single program in PlaNYC, the city’s long-term sustainability program.  The new law requires private buildings to carry out retro-commissioning.  While retrofitting involves capital alterations and installation of new equipment, retro-commissioning includes noncapital improvements, or “fine turning” and maintenance of existing systems.  City-owned buildings larger than 10,000 square feet would still have to retrofit with “all reasonable capital improvements” within a year of filing an audit report, if the work would generate an energy cost-savings payback within seven years.  The audit bill includes financial hardship exemptions from the upgrade requirements.  The other bills would require buildings subject to the law to benchmark their energy use and water consumption through EPA’s Portfolio Manager energy leadership program; require large commercial buildings to carry out lighting upgrades by 2025; and create a city energy conservation construction code for building renovations that would, among other things, remove an exemption from the State Energy Code for renovations that include less than 50% of a building’s subsystems. 

Read the Mayor’s December 9, 2009 press release here:

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