This week New York City mayor Bill De Blasio announced mandates that, if passed by the City Council, would require building owners in the Big Apple to drastically reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The mayor’s office is calling the program the most ambitious of its kind in the country.
Fossil fuel caps would apply to all buildings over 25,000 square feet, compelling owners to perform upgrades on an accelerated 2030 timeline, according to the mayor’s office. There are 14,500 buildings considered to be the least efficient, which produce 24% of New York City’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Overall, fossil fuels burned for heat and water inside buildings are the number one source of GHG emissions in the city.
In order to meet the targets, “building owners will make improvements to boilers, heat distribution, hot water heaters, roofs and windows, requiring deeper changes during their replacement or refinancing cycles over the next 12 to 17 years,” the mayor’s office says.
Failure to comply with the fossil fuel caps carries hefty penalties set by the proposed legislation that would go up with building size and the amount of fossil fuel use that exceeds the targets. For example, if a 30,000-square-foot residential building operates significantly above its energy target, the owner would pay $60,000 for each year that happens starting in 2030, according to a press release.
In order to assist the owners of smaller buildings reach the targets, the legislation calls for a Property Assessed Clean Energy program to provide financing at low interest with long terms that allow owners to pay for investments in energy efficiency through their property tax bills. Such a program in New York City could potentially finance $100 million worth of annual energy efficiency and clean energy projects, the mayor’s office says.
Key details about the new building mandates remain unclear, however, the New York Times points out. Also, the City Council hasn’t passed the legislation yet. De Blasio’s office estimates that the new mandates would help reduce the total citywide greenhouse gas emissions 7% by 2035.