The de Blasio Administration today announced substantial progress on improving the energy efficiency of buildings throughout New York City. Nearly 70 percent of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in New York City come from buildings. Reducing these emissions is a flagship component of Mayor de Blasio’s commitment to reduce citywide GHG emissions 80 percent by 2050 (80 x 50), and the City’s pledge to uphold the Paris Climate Agreement following President Trump’s decision to abandon it.
“New York City is leading the way when it comes to fighting climate change by tackling our largest emissions source – buildings. Our retrofit programs are already reducing emissions, making our air cleaner, our residents healthier, and our city fairer for all,” said Mayor de Blasio.
Since Mayor de Blasio took office, DCAS has invested more than $580 million in energy efficiency projects located in over 1,250 public buildings. These projects are expected to yield more than $68 million in avoided annual energy costs and approximately 187,000 metric tons of avoided GHG emissions, the equivalent of taking more than 40,000 cars off the road.
Through the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, the City is also supporting private building owners to pursue energy efficiency and clean energy projects with $16 million in City funding for the NYC Retrofit Accelerator and Community Retrofit NYC programs Together, these programs are currently assisting over 5,000 buildings to identify energy and water saving retrofit opportunities and connecting them to financial and technical resources. By 2025, the program is anticipated to reduce citywide GHG emissions by roughly one million metric tons accelerating retrofits in approximately 1,000 more properties per year– the equivalent of taking almost 200,000 cars off the roads. This year, the NYC Retrofit Accelerator launched a new High Performance Retrofit Track to assist private buildings with retrofits over the next 10-15 years, which are expected to reduce energy use by 40-60 percent.
The NYC Carbon Challenge, the City’s long-standing voluntary leadership program, is also working with more than 100 companies and organizations that have committed to reducing their GHG emissions by 30-50 percent. Currently, participants represent over 5,600 buildings, totaling 510 million square feet, equal to the entirety of built square footage south of 23rd Street in Manhattan. To date, participants have cut GHG emissions by close to 600,000 metric tons, equivalent to taking 125,000 cars of the road, and saved nearly $190 million annually in lower energy costs. By the end of the program, current participants are projected to reduce citywide GHG emissions by nearly 1.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent—the equivalent of taking more than 300,000 cars off the road—and save an estimated $700 million in energy costs. Read the NYC Carbon Challenge 2018 Progress Report here.
Aggressively cutting GHG emissions from buildings is key to fulfilling Mayor de Blasio’s Executive Order 26, signed after President Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Agreement. The executive order committed New York City to the principles of the Paris Climate Agreement and directed all City agencies to develop a plan by September 30, 2017 to accelerate our 80 x 50 efforts and align them with the Paris Climate Agreement’s stretch goal of limiting a global temperature increase to l.5° Celsius. Read l.5°C: Aligning New York City with the Paris Climate Agreement here.
In New York City, fossil fuels burned in buildings for heat and hot water are the number one source of GHG emissions, accounting for 42 percent of the citywide total. The burning of these fuels also contributes to air pollution that causes asthma, bronchitis, and premature death, particularly among children and seniors. To address this climate threat, the de Blasio Administration is committed to working closely with the City Council on new legislation mandating retrofits for the city’s largest and most-polluting buildings, while protecting tenants and affordable housing.
The de Blasio administration has also worked closely with City Council to pass two landmark pieces of legislation in January 2018 to ensure that all new construction and substantially renovated buildings are held to stringent energy efficiency standards and bring additional transparency to the real estate market on building energy efficiency. Local Law 32 of 2018 requires New York City to adopt a stretch Energy Code that is 20 percent better than the New York State Energy Conservation Construction Code in 2019 and 2022, and an Energy Code that is 30 percent better than New York City’s current code in 2025. Local Law 33 of 2018 requires owners of all buildings greater than 25,000 square feet to display energy efficiency grades near public entrances, ranging from A – F associated with the building’s ENERGY STAR® score beginning in 2020. The scores will be updated annually based on energy benchmarking data submitted to the City.
The Next Phase of the NYC Carbon Challenge
The NYC Carbon Challenge is the City’s voluntary leadership program that challenges private and institutional leaders to reduce their GHG emissions. As the program hits its ten-year mark, 13 new retail organizations have joined and the original college, university, and hospital participants have deepened their commitments to a GHG emissions reduction goal of 40-50 percent.
The new retail participants include Amalgamated Bank, Bank of America, Barnes and Noble, Citi, Equinox, Just Salad, L’Oréal, Le Pain Quotidien, Lowe’s, Sprint, TD Bank, Verizon, Warby Parker. The participating college, university, and hospital participants that have committed to reduce their GHG emissions 50 percent by 2025 include Barnard College, Fashion Institute of Technology, New York University (NYU), School of Visuals Arts, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, NewYork-Presbyterian/Queens, NYC Health + Hospitals, and NYU Langone Health. The participating college, university, and hospital participants that have committed to reduce their GHG emissions 40 percent by 2030 include Berkeley College, The City University of New York, Columbia University, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, Fordham University, The New School, Pace University, NYU Tandon School of Engineering, Pratt Institute, The Rockefeller University, St. John’s University, Wagner College, Weill Cornell Medicine, Maimonides Medical Center, Montefiore Medical Center, Mount Sinai Health System, and Northwell Health.
“Buildings account for more than two-thirds of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions and are the key to reducing our emissions in line with the Paris Agreement,” said Daniel Zarrilli, New York City’s Senior Director of Climate Policy and Programs and Chief Resilience Officer. “By moving these critical energy efficiency programs forward, New York City is continuing to achieve results in its effort to promote cleaner buildings and healthier communities.”
“Buildings are New York City’s biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions and City programs like Retrofit Accelerator and the NYC Carbon Challenge help empower building owners, tenants, neighbors and city residents to reduce the impact of our built environment on our shared climate – and we’re just getting started,” said Mark Chambers, Director of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Sustainability.
“At a time when Washington is turning its back on climate change, New York City under Mayor de Blasio is leading the way,” said Lisette Camilo, Commissioner of the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS). “We are well on our way to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from schools, hospitals, and other government buildings to advance the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. In fact, our municipal emissions are down 25 percent from a 2006 baseline. Investing in energy efficiency supports economic development and an improved quality of life for all New Yorkers, and DCAS is proud to show government leadership in transitioning to a carbon-free future.”
Assembly Energy Committee Chairman Michael Cusick said, “It is great to see the City of New York working to create a more energy efficient city. With New York City having more than 200 skyscraper buildings and various residential and industrial building structures, this has become a source of high levels of greenhouse gas emissions being released into the environment. The City’s investment in educating public and private building owners of how to convert their buildings into energy efficient and clean energy properties will put the City on track with meeting the State’s goal of reducing GHG emissions.”
Mayor de Blasio’s continued work to reduce the carbon footprint of New Yorkers and combat the detrimental impact of global warming needs to be commended. The expansion of efforts by NYC to reduce greenhouse gases is extremely important and is a welcomed addition to the fight to save our planet from the disastrous consequences of ignoring the problem of rising oceans and increased severe and deadly weather,” stated Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, Chair of the Assembly Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force.
“Now more than ever, with rising health concerns like asthma and bronchitis, we see a dire need to reduce our carbon footprint and thus far we were able to cut 600,000 tons of GHG emissions,” said Assemblywoman Latrice Walker. “I’m ecstatic to see more institutions join the fight to reduce greenhouse emissions. We need all hands on deck to make New York City a more energy efficient city and it is every New Yorker’s duty to renovate our home into an eco-friendly haven, for ourselves and the generations to come.”
Council Member Costa Constantinides said, “In honor of Earth Day, I am proud that our environmental legislation and other programs have helped to reduce emissions from buildings. Whether through our bills for cleaner heating oil in buildings or our bills that encourage use of renewable energy like geothermal and wind, our city is leading the way on the environment. Programs like the NYC Retrofit Accelerator and NYC Carbon Challenge also help buildings go green by providing funding and resources to owners. I look forward to continuing to work with the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability to keep this momentum going and improve our city’s environmental health.”
“New York City, under the leadership of Mayor de Blasio, is stepping up with the bold climate action needed to deliver on the most ambitious goals of the Paris Climate Agreement,” said David Miller, North American Regional Director, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. “By investing today in making buildings more energy efficient, and supporting private owners to shift to clean energy, New York is drastically cutting the emissions that cause climate change. That isn’t just good for the planet, it is also going to save New Yorkers money in the long term on their energy bills.”
“The Building Energy Exchange is very proud to support New York City’s 80 x 50 goal and the commitment to the principles of the Paris Climate Agreement,” said Richard Yancey, Executive Director, Building Energy Exchange. “By providing critical educational resources for everyone with a stake in the performance of buildings we look forward to continuing our role as the knowledge-sharing hub for the city’s pioneering Retrofit Accelerator and NYC Carbon Challenge programs.”
“The NYC Carbon Challenge is not only a key component of reaching New York City’s goals for slashing carbon pollution, but a hub of innovation that is helping the city get there smarter, faster and with even greater economic benefits for New Yorkers. This ambitious program is creating a healthier place to live and work, and we’re proud to be a part of it,” said Rory Christian, New York Director – Clean Energy, Environmental Defense Fund.
“New York City is helping to keep the promise of the Paris agreement alive by cutting climate pollution from the city’s largest source—its buildings,” said Donna De Costanzo, Eastern Region Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Climate & Clean Energy Program. “We’re proud that our NYC headquarters is participating in this challenge, which is helping building owners and tenants lower energy bills, while cleaning up the air we breathe.”
“The New York City Energy Efficiency Corporation (NYCEEC) looks forward to continuing its partnership with the City’s Retrofit Accelerator program, helping buildings owners finance retrofits to improve the energy performance of their properties and reduce GHG emissions,” said Susan Leeds, CEO of NYCEEC.
“Community Retrofit NYC provides a valuable service to me and my community. They have been able to help us access free lighting, improve our housing, and reduce our energy bills by supporting us through every step of the process. I look forward to working with the team further to green our buildings and neighborhoods,” said Bishop Albert Belgrove, His Majesty International Church.
“Mount Sinai has a long history of embracing initiatives that improve the quality of the air we breathe. New Yorkers suffer from a high rate of asthma and other respiratory ailments. Improving air quality is key to reducing the prevalence of these diseases. We applaud Mayor de Blasio for his efforts in improving the energy efficiency of New York City’s buildings,” said Kenneth L. Davis, MD, President and CEO, Mount Sinai Health System.
“NYU Langone Health recognizes the inextricable link between human health and responsible environmental stewardship. With this in mind and through the focused application of improved operations and smart capital projects, we have dramatically reduced our energy use and achieved a fantastic return on our investments. We are excited to be part of the NYC Carbon Challenge, and we are now well on our way to meeting our 50 percent carbon reduction goal by 2025, said Paul Schwabacher, Senior Vice President, NYU Langone Health.
“Fordham University is proud to be a partner in New York City’s Carbon Challenge. How we react to climate change affects not only the eight million souls who live here, but the future of everyone on the planet. As a Jesuit University it is incumbent upon Fordham to do everything we can to mitigate the rise of global temperatures,” said Joseph M. McShane, S.J., President, Fordham University.
“At the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), we are immensely proud of the progress that we have made in the NYC Carbon Challenge, reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by more than 55 percent over the course of the past decade,” said Dr. Joyce F. Brown, President of FIT. “Our actions have been motivated by our partnership with the City and the leadership of our students who are dedicated to preserving our planet for posterity.”
“NYU’s partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability has helped us meet both long and short term challenges. As an initial signatory of the NYC Carbon Challenge, we were able to galvanize the campus community around carbon reductions, which helped us meet our 30 percent goal in just five years,” said Cecil Scheib, Assistant Vice President for Sustainability, New York University. “And the NYC Retrofit Accelerator, High Performance Track connected us to experts who helped us incorporate high-performance building measures into an existing design. As a result, we were able to make improvements that will last for the lifetime of the building and that will save on energy and carbon emissions for decades to come.”
“As a brand founded and headquartered in New York, Just Salad is thrilled to be able to participate in the NYC Carbon Challenge,” said Nick Kenner, CEO, Just Salad. “Our commitment to the community spans from operating the world’s largest restaurant reusable program, to making sure we are using energy-efficient LED lighting in our 30+ store locations. We hope to inspire other businesses to be a part of this important initiative.”
“As we expand our retail footprint and refresh our stores across the country, we’re using sustainable materials for retail displays and implementing smart systems for things like climate control and lighting,” said Claudio Hidalgo, Regional President for the Northeast, Sprint. “The NYC Carbon Challenge program provides additional resources and support to help Sprint reduce energy consumption and further our longstanding commitment to sustainability.”
“Lowe’s is excited to partner with the City of New York on this important challenge,” said Chris Cassel, Sustainability Director, Lowe’s. We are committed to reducing the environmental footprint of our own operations at stores in New York and across the country, while helping to educate and enable our customers to do the same at home. Only together can we sufficiently address the significant opportunities ahead in sustainability.”
“Bank of America is pleased to participate in the NYC Carbon Challenge, and we are working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from financial centers in the NYC area by 30 percent over the next ten years from our 2010 base year,” said Anne Walker, New York City Market President for Bank of America. This initiative supports our continued efforts to reduce the environmental impacts of our operations. We have committed to become carbon neutral and purchase 100 percent renewable electricity in addition to continuing to reduce location-based GHG emissions by 50 percent, energy use by 40 percent, and water use by 45 percent in our operations across the globe, all by 2020.”
“Warby Parker is proud to participate in Mayor de Blasio’s NYC Carbon Challenge. As a company, we believe in sustainability and doing good in the world—and we always enjoy a challenge, especially one that could impact the greater good of the community. Starting with our flagship location on Greene Street in SoHo, we have committed to reducing Warby Parker‘s GHG emissions by 30 percent in 2019 as part of the NYC Carbon Challenge’s ten-year program. Being a good corporate citizen and remaining energy efficient are important to us as we scale, and we aim to continue this reduction at other Warby Parker stores in NYC and throughout the country in the years to come,” said Neil Blumenthal and Dave Gilboa, co-CEOs, Warby Parker.