Our country may have pulled out of the climate change accord, but New York City certainly hasn’t. The city made its commitment to reducing its emissions clear the day after Trump announced his stance. A new initiative was announced that would require building owners to address their fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions, placing limits on buildings 25,000 square feet and up. The mandates are intended to target the least efficient buildings in the city and will create thousands of green jobs.
“The plan is estimated to reduce emissions by 7 percent overall, the equivalent of removing 900,000 cars from the road annually,” Think Progress writes. Heat and hot water are the focus of this initiative as they make up “42 percent of the city’s total emissions.” This plan will allow New York City to reach the Paris Climate Agreement goal of 80 percent reduction in emissions by 2050.
Building owners who don’t meet regulations, replacing boilers, water heaters, and other elements, by designated years (2020 or 2030 depending on the building type) will face penalties. NYC.gov reports that the legislation will help provide financing that allows owners to pay for energy investments through their property tax bill. The plan also ensures that tenants will not be displaced and rents will not be raised to meet these mandates.
These types of initiatives have already proved effective and worthwhile to all involved. As Think Progress states, “Other efficiency programs, including the Energy Department’s Better Buildings initiative, have shown dramatic returns on investment in efficiency. Since 2011, $4.2 billion has provided energy savings that will save $8 billion in the next 18 years.”
Unfortunately, the Better Buildings initiatives are at risk to federal budget cut proposals. Funding for the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy office could be cut in half. But, as Mayor de Blasio says, “No matter what happens in Washington, we will not shirk our responsibility to act on climate in our own backyard.”