The new mandates aim to reduce citywide greenhouse emissions by 7 percent, an equivalent to taking 900,000 cars off the road

Photo credit: NY Daily News

In an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions caused by buildings, Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed on Thursday new mandates that will require building owners to make far-reaching upgrades to boilers, water heaters, roofs and windows by 2030.

“New York will make critical changes to help protect our city and prevent the worst effects of climate change. We must shed our buildings’ reliance on fossil fuels here and now,” said Mayor de Blasio. “To do this, we are mandating upgrades to increase the energy efficiency of our buildings, helping us continue to honor the goals of the Paris Agreement.”

In New York City, fossil fuels burned in buildings for heat and hot water account for 42 percent of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions which contribute to air pollution that causes asthma, bronchitis and premature death, particularly among children and seniors. The new targets aim to reduce citywide greenhouse emissions by 7 percent, an equivalent to taking 900,000 cars off the road, by 2035.

The mandated fossil fuel caps will apply to all buildings over 25,000 square feet and will require building owners to make improvements to boilers, heat distribution, hot water heaters, roofs and windows. To compel landlords to meet these targets, the city will set annual penalties that increase with building size and the amount the buildings exceed the fossil fuel use targets.

To help smaller owners achieve these objectives, the city will authorize a Property Assessed Clean Energy program (PACE) to provide financing at low interest with long terms that allow property owners to pay for energy efficiency investments through their property tax bill. The city’s NYC Retrofit Accelerator program will provide additional technical support.

“We know that a building’s energy efficiency is a major contributor to the battle against climate change, and in the absence of leadership from the White House, the People’s House in Brooklyn is prepared to step up,” said Borough President Eric Adams. “We are working hard to phase out fossil fuels from every corner of our borough, moving toward energy solutions that are cleaner, more resilient, and ultimately better for the health of our economy and our residents.”

The mandates are the city’s first step to help hold global temperature increases to just 1.5 degrees Celsius, a minimum prerequisite to avoid the most disastrous effects of climate change. While the mandate requires drastic changes, there are clear benefits: Less carbon pollution and reliance on fossil fuels which will result in a cleaner air, lower annual energy costs and the expected creation of 17,000 green jobs.

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Andrea Leonhardt

“Made in Germany,” Andrea Leonhardt is the managing editor for BK Reader. Andrea holds a bachelor’s degree in political science, with minors in American studies and education, and a master’s...

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