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City council exploring legislation to reduce NYC emissions by 2030

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If passed, the new legislation would apply to 50,000 buildings, of which most are residential

Update: City Council is working on legislation that aims to reduce carbon emissions in large buildings by 20 percent between 2020 and 2030, reports Crain’s. The announcement follows an environmental report centered on green legislation, published by the Urban Green Council last week.

If the legislation is a reflection of the Urban Green Council’s report, new rules would apply to 50,000 buildings—most of which are residential—that encompass 25,000 square feet or more.

“I consider today a milestone in our quest to make New York City’s buildings greener, our infrastructure more sustainable, and our air significantly cleaner,” Councilman Costa Constantinides said in a statement. Constantinides has pledged support for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s larger plan to reduce carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050—a plan that was announced back in 2016.


The Urban Green Council’s 80x50 Building Partnership released a report on Wednesday that seeks to lead to the reduction of energy use by 20 percent in the city’s largest buildings by 2030.

The proposal lays out a 21-point plan that would help the city achieve an 80 percent reduction in emissions by 2050 (hence 80x50) and was drafted with input from some of the city’s major real estate players, including Brookfield Properties, Con Ed, the Durst Organization, NYU, REBNY, Related Companies, Tishman Speyer, and Sidewalk Labs.

“The Partnership brought together organizations from opposite sides of the fence. But it turns out the fence wasn’t as high as we thought,” said Russell Unger, executive director of Urban Green Council. “Building owners want to improve energy efficiency. Advocates do care about feasibility. We just needed to recast disagreements as questions, and the time to work through them.”

The proposal includes measures that would help the fixes to be made in a more egalitarian way. For instance, the rent-stabilized sector accounts for 40 percent of large mutlifamily building space, and often the cost of major capital improvements in these buildings get passed on to tenants. Under the proposal, energy efficiency measures would not be classified as MCI’s and therefore the costs would not be passed on to tenants.

The proposal also outlines an optional “efficiency trading” program that would help building owners achieve energy reduction requirements by buying energy savings from upgrades in other buildings. Consideration should be given to providing greater credit for efficiency improvements in the nonprofit and affordable housing sectors.

New York City was responsible for 61 million metric tons of greenhouse gases in 2005, two-thirds of which came from buildings, Bloomberg reports. The city is on its way to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but still has a long way to go; in 2016, the city was responsible for 52 million metric tons of greenhouse gases.

Read the full blueprint proposal here.